Active Volcano Found Under Antarctic Ice: Eruption Could Raise Sea Levels


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Active Volcano Found Under Antarctic Ice: Eruption Could Raise Sea Levels

Inevitable eruption will speed up ice loss on frozen continent, study says.

 

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The summit of Mount Erebus casts a long shadow out over the Ross Sea. Mount Erebus is the most active volcano in Antarctica?and one of a few in the world with a permanent lake of molten lava in its crater. - Photograph by George Steinmetz, Corbis

 

A newly discovered volcano found buried beneath a thick layer of ice in Antarctica could speed up ice loss and raise global sea levels when it erupts, scientists say.

The finding, detailed in the current issue of Nature Geoscience, marks the first time that an active volcano has been discovered under the ice of the frozen continent. (Also see "Giant Undersea Volcanoes Found Off Antarctica.")

When it erupts?which no one can predict?the volcano "will create millions of gallons of water beneath the ice?many lakes full," study leader Doug Wiens, professor of earth and planetary science at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a statement.

This water will rush beneath the ice toward the sea and feed into one of the major ice streams that drain ice from Antarctica into the Ross Ice Shelf, Wiens explained.

 

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