East Antarctica's 'Ghost mountains' mapped
Presentation summary for the IPY Science Conference 2010 in Oslo by Dr. Tom Jordan and Dr. Kathryn Rose
One of the first images of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains (GSM), huge mountains found under three kilometre thick ice in Antarctica, will be presented at the IPY Oslo Science Conference. Located in the centre of East Antarctica, this mountain range is thought to mark the birthplace of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS).
Antarctica’s Gamburtsev Province (AGAP) project was a significant contribution to the IPY, accomplishing a major aerogeophysical survey of this previously unexplored area. These images reveal, with unprecedented detail, the high-relief alpine-style make-up of the GSM and the deep subglacial basins in which the Lambert Glacier flows — the largest glacier in the world. An improved understanding of this massive region is key to predicting its potential contribution to sea level rise.
Scientists have mapped a network of valleys branching across the entire mountain range, which were carved by both fluvial and glacial activity — water and ice. Studying the presence of subglacial water and how it is connected throughout these valleys will help to build an important picture of the evolution and stability of the East Antarctic Ice sheet.