Secret Antarctic mountains will help us understand Earth’s climate history
Deep underneath the Antarctic ice sheet are the Gamburtsev mountains, a mountain range the size of the Alps. Scientists are finally piecing together the story of their creation, destruction, and re-creation, and it could help with modeling future climate conditions.
The original Gamburtsev mountains, kicked up by continental drift, were eroded down to the root over the course of hundreds of millions of years. When the continent started to break apart again, somewhere between 250 and 100 million years ago, the shifting warmed the mountain's root, and its seismic activity raised the mountains back up. Finally, glaciers first carved out deeper valleys and then covered the entire range in thick ice. The mountains have been buried for the last 35 million years.
This is crazy cool, not only because of secret mountains (there are lakes down there too!) but also because the Gamburtsevs were the origin point for the Antarctic ice sheet. That means ice from the mountain range could easily be more than a million years old, 200,000 years older than other ice samples from the continent. Bubbles in that ice could give clues about the ancient environment, and maybe help extrapolate what we're in for in the future.
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