Seismographs pinpoint volcano under West Antarctica ice

By on November 26, 2013
Scientists detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 30 miles ahead of Mount Sidley, pictured here (Credit: Doug Wiens)

Scientists detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 30 miles ahead of Mount Sidley, pictured here (Credit: Doug Wiens)

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have used seismographs to discover a new volcano in Antarctica, according to a release. Their findings are available in the Nov. 17 edition of Nature Geoscience.

The seismographs used disturbances created by earthquakes to generate images of ice and rock underneath West Antarctica, with a goal of weighing the ice sheet to reconstruct Antarctica’s history. But when the researchers saw two unexpected seismic spikes, they investigated further, finding that the spikes were caused by a young, under-ice volcano.

The team was tipped off by weak and low frequency seismic shaking, which isn’t commonly caused by shifting tectonic plates. To confirm that the shakes weren’t caused by glacial movement, computer models revealed that the shaking had occurred at depths between the earth’s crust and mantle. The length and frequency of the waves also had similar characteristics to those recorded near other volcanoes.

Image: Scientists detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 30 miles ahead of Mount Sidley, pictured here (Credit: Doug Wiens)

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