Scientists from Newcastle University, the University of Bristol's Glaciology Centre, the British Antarctic Survey and the universities of Edinburgh, Exeter, and York have discovered a massive trench under the ice covering the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands, a region of Western Antarctica.
The Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands are a line of subglacial highlands in West Antarctica that extend WSW from central Ellsworth Mountains to the vicinity of Mount Moore and Mount Woollard. The scientists researching the area have discovered "a massive subglacial valley up to 3 kilometres deep, more than 300 kilometres long and up to 25 kilometres across. " The bottom of the valley is, in places, more than 2000m below sea-level.
The discovery has given a fascinating insight into the life-cycle of this ancient and intriguing ice-sheet. Due to the "low ice velocities and limited present-day change in the ice-sheet interior," areas in Western Antarctica such as the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands are key to "establishing the locations from which the West Antarctic Ice Sheet originated and grew." They can also help us to understand the possible effects of Climate Change upon the ice sheet.
 PhysOrg: Scientists discover giant trench under Antarctic Ice. 14/01/2014
 Geological Society of America Bulletin: The Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands: Inception and retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 20 September 2012
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