Of all the continents of our planet we know the least about the ice of Antarctica. To expand these views, an international group of scientists using satellite images revealed hidden from the structure of the continent.
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Due to the remote location and abundance of ice to reveal the geological features of Antarctica seems quite a challenge, but thanks to data obtained from the satellite GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer), scientists will be able to compose new idea of how Antarctica was formed and how it can function tectonic plates. The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“In East Antarctica, we see a fascinating mosaic of different geological features, which reveals fundamental similarities and differences between the earth’s crust under Antarctica and other continents, to which it has acceded to 160 million years ago,” says one of the authors work Ferraccioli Fausto (Fausto Ferraccioli) from the British Antarctic service.
According to scientists, once Antarctica was part of the supercontinent Gondwana, which began to break up about 130 million years ago. However, the link between Antarctica and Australia remained 55 million years ago.
By combining the GOCE evidence from seismological data, the researchers were able to create a 3D map of the earth’s lithosphere consisting of crust and molten mantle. This lithosphere includes mountain ranges, the ocean spins and rocky areas called cratons, the remains of ancient continents that are embedded in their modern “descendants”.
“To get a more coherent image of the crust and upper mantle in 3D, we combine satellite data with seismic data to allow us to understand the interplay between plate tectonics and deep mantle dynamics,” says study co-author jörg Ebbing (Jörg Ebbing) from the University of Kiel in Germany.
In addition, the scientists found that the crust and lithosphere of West Antarctica are more delicate than in the East: the latter has a mosaic of old cratons, alternating with thinner regions of the rock, like India and Australia, with whom she once was one. The data obtained are useful not only for tracking the remnants of ancient continents during the last 200 million years: they will be useful to find out how the ice slab over the main landscape might respond to a warmer temperature.
With so many variables to consider in forecasting the melting of Antarctic ice, any new knowledge can greatly facilitate the work of scientists. According to Ferraccioli derived gravity image will greatly assist researchers in exploring the unknown continent of the Earth.