Huge volcanoes can activate under the icy shield of West Antarctica

Scientists have found evidence of volcanic eruptions in the depths of the ice shield of West Antarctica. In August, researchers from the University of Edinburgh announced that there are at least 138 volcanoes in West Antarctica, all hidden beneath an ice shield, the thickness of which in some places reaches two kilometers. Scientists wondered: how active are these volcanoes ?!

As experts noted, the eruption of any of the volcanoes, which are completely hidden under a thick layer of ice, can melt a huge amount of ice in a short period of time. If this happens, sea level rise can significantly accelerate.

It did not take long to wait for an answer. A team of scientists from the Technical University in New Mexico, Dartmouth College and the Vermont Technical College managed to find out. Specialists have studied a block of ice, located near two famous volcanoes in the ice shield, Til and Resnick. Using scanning electron microscopy and electron microprobe analysis, they found thick layers in the ice core, which number 22.3 thousand and 44.8 thousand years. These layers were filled with tephra, rock fragments and particles ejected by eruptions of volcanoes.

Researchers believe that the two eruptions that led to the appearance of tephra were minor, with occasional explosions, when glacial meltwater interacted with hot magma.

The data obtained show that at least some of the volcanoes under the ice cover of the Western Antarctic have not “died out,” and the latest eruption occurred approximately 22,300 years ago.

Researchers are concerned that the current trend of loss of ice can lead to the awakening of Antarctica volcanoes from inactive sleep.