Largest volcanic region comprising group of over 100 volcanoes has recently been discovered below the vast ice sheet in west Antartica. University of Edinburgh researchers found 91 volcanoes, adding to 47 found earlier.These volcanoes have been discovered over previous century of researching and finding expedition.
Volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3850 meters , with the highest one as tall as Switzerland’s 3,970 meter Eiger mountain. These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system — which stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica’s Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula.
According to geologists, this huge region is likely to dwarf east Africa’s volcanic ridge — currently rated as the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world. However, the activity of this range could have worrying consequences, glacier expert Robert Bingham was quoted as saying to the Guardian. Bingham says in case of volcanoes eruption Antartica’s ice sheet migh destabilize. This may also speed up the outflow of ice to sea.
The Edinburgh volcano survey, reported in the Geological Society’s special publications series, involved studying the underside of the west Antarctica ice sheet for hidden peaks of basalt rock similar to those produced by the region’s other volcanoes. Presently, volcanism is seen in regions, including Iceland and Alaska, that have recently lost their glacier covering. The same could happen in west Antarctica, where significant warming in the region caused by climate change has begun to affect its ice sheets.
If they are reduced significantly, this could release pressure on the volcanoes that lie below and lead to eruptions that could further destabilise the ice sheets and enhance sea level rises that are already affecting our oceans, Bingham noted.