A source of radioactive heat, which from the earth's heart contributes to the dissolution of ice, was discovered under the Antarctica. It is near the south magnetic pole and in the future could accelerate the melting of frozen mass in that area by the water that accumulates at the base of the glacier. It was identified after surveys conducted with the radars of the British Antarctic Survey (Bas), the British Antarctic research organization that published the discovery in the journal Scientific Reports.
"The finding confirms that the dissolution of ice in Antarctica also suffers local effects such as radioactive sources or volcanoes because it is a continent covered with ice, unlike the Arctic which is an ocean that freezes and suffers only the general effects of global warming" , said Antonio Meloni, president of the Italian National Scientific Commission for Antarctica, ANSA.
Under the Antarctic ice, traces of ancient lost continents are hidden, according to the European satellite Goce, which from 2009 to 2013 studied Earth's gravity. There are at least three fragments, formerly united in Africa, Australia and India, the oldest with an estimated age between 1 billion and 550 million years.
Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the discovery is due to the German University of Kiel and the British Antarctic Survey (Bas). The researchers analyzed data from the European Space Agency's (ESA) mission, which measured the subtle differences in severity from one point to another on Earth with a resolution of 80 kilometers, and compared it with the seismic wave course that allows sweeping the interior of the planet. In this way, they obtained a 3D map of the continental plates that opened a window in the depths of the earth and, in particular, Antarctica.
These images of gravity "are revolutionizing our ability to study the lesser-known continent, Antarctica," said Fausto Ferraccioli, head of geological and geophysical research at Bas. Under East Antarctica, he added, "we see an exciting mosaic of fragments of lost continents," which reveal similarities and differences between the crust below Antarctica and the other continents, "to which the fragments have united" up to 160 million years years ago ".
It has also been discovered that western Antarctica has a thinner crust, 20 to 35 kilometers thick, compared to that of eastern Antarctica, consisting of relics of ancient continents between 40 and 60 kilometers thick, separated by the youngest remains are at least three and the earliest are the fragment attached to the so-called Crater Mawson, which in the past included parts of southern Australia, and the vestige hidden beneath the land of Queen Maud. The two fragments are separated by the Gamburtsev mountain range, buried under the ice.
The origin of the third fragment, located between the Weddell Sea and the South Pole, is unclear. Three fragments emerged from the data of Goce and, according to the researchers, "represent a new important element for the study of Antarctica."