Faint lineations in the ice surface have been traced by satellites. (Credit: NASA)
International researchers are intrigued by the prospect of finding a chasm so large in Antarctica that it could eclipse the length of the Grand Canyon, according to the BBC. The hints are there, they say, like faint lines and features in surface ice that tell them a canyon below is likely.
The area of interest is Princess Elizabeth Land in East Antarctica, an area that is poorly understood by scientists because of lacking ice thickness measurements. Still, researchers argue in the journal Geology, satellite measurements of the region so far seem to point to larger features under all the ice.
These include the presence of a large, subglacial drainage network made up of far-reaching lines. Scientists believe that the behavior of the network is controlled by tectonic conditions in the region and could mean there’s a large canyon, holding some sort of subglacial lake, below.
To confirm or dispel their suspicions, the international team of researchers is conducting flights in aircraft equipped with radio-echo sounders. Results of those efforts are expected in 2016.
Top image: Faint lineations in the ice surface have been traced by satellites. (Credit: NASA)