Antarctic Ice Is Hiding a Super-Trench Way Deeper Than the Grand Canyon

Antarctic Ice Is Hiding a Super Trench Way Deeper Than the Grand Canyon

A new paper in the January issue of theGeological Society of America Bulletindescribes how scientists from Newcastle University and Bristol University’s Bristol Glaciology Centre measured the chasm. Because the ice sheet is so huge, it was “incredibly serendipitous” that they even found it at all, says lead author Neil Ross. Using radar, the research team penetrated the deep ice to discover a hidden valley known as the Ellsworth Trough, near Ellsworth Lake, where a British team recently drilled down to look for evidence of life.

Scientists have known about such rifts for years, but needed to collect more data about the precise size and shape of them. In this case, Ross’ team only had radar data for each end of the valley—and no clue what lay in between.

Scientists have known about such rifts for years, but needed to collect more data about the precise size and shape of them. In this case, Ross’ team only had radar data for each end of the valley—and no clue what lay in between.

It turns out that this valley—now canyon—was so big, it could be seen by NASA satellites. That’s right: Below miles of ancient ice, the trench was still visible from space. So NASA gave them the data they needed to discover that the trough was actually 1.8 miles deep, far deeper than the canyondiscovered under Greenlandic ice last year, and also much deeper than the Grand Canyon itself. Ross waxes poetic in a statement:

THATS LIKE WHOA

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