The Mysterious Rocks Under Antarctica

A group of researchers has managed to collect ancient rocks hidden under the ice cap of the southeastern pole

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The Mysterious Rocks Under Antarctica

Rocks never seen before have been found in Antarctica. A group of researchers has managed to collect ancient rocks hidden under the ice cap of the southeastern pole and now we could finally understand how and why those buried landscapes that have always fascinated scientists were formed.

Gamburtsev Mountains are one of the most inaccessible and mysterious places on the planet. They are found under 600 meters of ice on the Antarctic continent and a new discovery could reveal more about them. The researchers selected granite boulders between 1 and 2 billion years old, knowing that rocks of this age are found nowhere else in Antarctica and must therefore have come from well beneath the ice sheet, perhaps right from the great and mysterious Gamburtsev subglacial mountains.

Paul Fitzgerald, professor of earth and environmental sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, said: "These mountains and landscapes have been buried under miles of ice for the past 14 million years. They are much more remote than Mount Everest or part deeper than the ocean.

We were sampling a place we knew very little about. For us, this was like having rocks to study from the moon or Mars." The Gamburtsev Mountains are a subglacial mountain range of the Antarctic continent, in one of the most inaccessible places on the planet, not far from the pole of inaccessibility.

They were discovered in 1958 by the Third Soviet Antarctic Expedition and were named Gamburtsev after the Russian geologist and seismologist Grigoriy Aleksandrovich Gamburtsev. They stretch in length of about 1200 km with peaks reaching 3,400 m above sea level.

Even the highest peaks are covered by a blanket of ice no less than 600 meters thick. It was possible to deduce its appearance only thanks to Landsat satellites with sensors that allow you to cross the thick layer of ice. Per i geologi i monti Gamburtsev sono un vero mistero: sono lontani da punti contatto tra le zolle tettoniche e non sembrano essere stati generati da attività vulcanica. Peraltro devono essere relativamente recenti, altrimenti sarebbero state spianati dall'erosione dei ghiacci.