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Massive Strange Landforms Under Antarctica Unearthed

First Posted: May 11, 2017 04:30 AM EDT

Oversized mysterious landforms known as "eskers" under the Antarctic ice sheet have been discovered. The said massive landforms are believed to be adding to the thinning of the Antarctic ice shelves and might have after-effects to the stability of the area.

The findings of the discovery were published in the journal Nature Communications. The study was led by researchers from the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Germany, according to Science Daily.

The researchers uncovered sediment ridges and a functioning system of water conduits below the Antarctic ice sheet. These landforms are about five times bigger than those deglaciated landscapes that could be seen today. The landforms are shaped about thousands of meters below the ice sheet.

The researchers used a combination of satellite imagery and airborne and ground-based radar data to identify "radar reflectors" under the ice sheet. The reflections suggest that it is has a large, ridge-shaped protrusions cutting into the ice flow above that is like ancient eskers of Scandinavia, yet these landforms are more massive, according to Science Alert.

They examined the subglacial conduits that shape under the large ice sheets and the funnel meltwater out toward the ocean. They discovered that they become wider as they get close to the ocean. They said that the widening allocates the enlargement of sediments over millennia. This led to the formation of landforms referred to as eskers.

The scientists also stated that as the conduits widened, there was a decrease in the outflow velocity of the subglacial water that leads to escalating sediment deposition at the conduit's portal. This has been shaped into a massive sediment ridges that are about the size of the Eiffel tower under the ice sheet for more than thousands of years. This discovery of massive landforms under the ice sheet indicates there could be instability that will occur earlier on in the process. 

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