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What lies underneath Antarctica? A hole bigger than the Grand Canyon

According to the National Monitor on Wednesday, scientists from Newcastle University discovered a trench beneath the ice in Antarctica and, well, it isn’t small.

In fact, according to British Scientists who did the study, this canyon of a hole is two miles deep, 15 miles wide and 200 miles long. Dr. Neil Ross, lead author of the study and a professor of geology at Newcastle University, says, "The discovery of this huge trough, and the characterization of the surrounding mountainous landscape, was incredibly serendipitous."

The researchers spent three seasons just to map out the Ellsworth Sub-glacial Highlands, an ancient sub-glacial mountain range in Antarctica. They collected data through the method of ice-penetrating radars that were towed behind snowmobiles and their on-board small aircraft with satellite data.

The mountain range and deep valley were carved millions of years ago by a small ice field similar to those of the present-day Antarctic Peninsula, or those of Arctic Canada and Alaska.

The team’s analysis has provided an unprecedented insight into the extent, thickness and behavior of this ancient ice field, and the configuration and behavior of the early West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Ross from Newcastle University notes that there’s much more work to be done if we hope to broaden our understanding of the continent.

“To me, this just goes to demonstrate how little we still know about the surface of our own planet. The discovery and exploration of hidden, previously-unknown landscapes is still possible and incredibly exciting, even now,” he said.

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Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.

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