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We believe this was the biggest eruption in Antarctica during the last 10,000 years," said study co-author Hugh Corr, a glaciologist for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). "It blew a substantial hole in the ice sheet, and generated a plume of ash and gas that rose around 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) into [the] air."
Although ice buried the unnamed volcano, molten rock is still churning below. David Vaughan, a glaciologist with the BAS and a co-author of the new study, said the discovery might explain the speeding up of historically slow-moving glaciers in the region.
“This eruption occurred close to Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet," Vaughan said. "The flow of this glacier towards the coast has speeded up in recent decades, and it may be possible that heat from the volcano has caused some of that acceleration."
The effect is similar to a person gliding down a Slip 'n Slide: Volcanically melted water beneath the colossal ice sheet lubricates its movement, assisting its gravity-powered journey toward the Antarctic Ocean.