Antarctica: Scientists find subglacial aquifer teeming with seawater
Antarctica is a frigid landscape with unending ice in any direction you see. But what lies below thousands of metres of ice? More ice or something else?. Do mysterious organisms lurk beneath?
Scientists have discovered a vast seawater aquifer below a fast-flowing ice stream in West Antarctica. This ice stream is itself under the surface and above the aquifer.
The aquifer contains seawater and scientists think it is likely that it has been locked there for thousands of years. It is unknown whether there are any organisms living there.
This is the first time groundwater has been detected beneath ice stream in Antarctica. This may help us in understanding how Antarctica reacts to climate change.
This groundwater system is saturated with water and is made up of porous sediments. It's almost like a huge sponge.
"The 'sponge' that we observe is anywhere from half a kilometer to about two kilometers thick [0.3 to 1.2 miles], so it's pretty deep," said Chloe D. Gustafson, lead author of the new study on the aquifer. She was quoted by Live Science.
There is a system of rivers and lakes that are located beneath this particular ice shelf. Scientists think that the newly found aquifer contains 10 times more water than these subglacial rivers and lakes.