Possible Super-Grand Canyon Found Under Antarctica
Another record-breaking canyon may exist under the ice of the south polar continent, carved by water.
It’s a thousand kilometers long, compared to the Grand Canyon’s 433. It’s a kilometer deep, comparable to the Grand Canyon. So far, it has been detected from surface depressions and ice-penetrating radar. If confirmed, it could be called “World’s largest canyon … hidden under [the] Antarctic ice sheet” (Science Daily). The main canyon is part of a canyon system including five or more parallel canyons, as seen in a diagram on the BBC News. Science Daily says,
Although the discovery needs to be confirmed by direct measurements, the previously unknown canyon system is thought to be over 1,000km long and in places as much as 1km deep, comparable in depth to the Grand Canyon in USA, but many times longer.
How did these canyons form? There are two theories. One would require believing the south pole was much warmer long ago.
The researchers believe that the landscape beneath the ice sheet has probably been carved out by water and is either so ancient that it was there before the ice sheet grew or it was created by water flowing and eroding beneath the ice.
Live Science only mentions the latter hypothesis, that it formed from flowing water under the ice. It would seem a heavy overburden of ice would inhibit transport of large quantities of sediments out the mouth of a flowing river, but this was not mentioned; it may be too early to tell.
Interestingly, a similar canyon was found in 2013 under the Greenland ice (8/29/13), almost twice as long as the Grand Canyon but half as deep. Years before, fossil DNA found 2km under the ice showed that the land once sported pine trees, butterflies, beetles and other temperate life (7/06/07). And in 2004, remnants of pine needles, bark and grass were found at the bottom of an ice core 10,400 feet long, two miles below the icy surface (8/16/04). A scientist then commented that the Greenland ice sheet “formed very fast.” In that case, scientists believed the canyon formed before the ice sheet covered the land.
Experts from Durham University remarked that the surface of Mars is better understood than the bed of Antarctica here on our own planet.
What extreme geological and atmospheric conditions could carve a super-Grand Canyon under Antarctica or Greenland? Perhaps a global flood of hot water coming out of the mid-oceanic ridge could do it. Even secular scientists agree it would not take millions of years to form Antarctica’s ice sheets.