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First Evidence Of Under-Ice Volcanoes In Antarctica 186

Posted by Zonk
from the a-touch-extreme dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The first evidence of a volcanic eruption from beneath Antarctica's ice sheet has been discovered by members of the British Antarctic Survey. The volcano on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet began erupting some 2,000 years ago and remains active to this day. Using airborne ice-sounding radar, scientists discovered a layer of ash produced by a 'subglacial' volcano. It extends across an area larger than Wales."
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First Evidence Of Under-Ice Volcanoes In Antarctica

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  • And here (Score:5, Funny)

    by AndGodSed (968378) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:20AM (#22124586) Homepage Journal
    everyone was blaming global warming for the melting of the icecaps...
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by BlueParrot (965239)

      everyone was blaming global warming for the melting of the icecaps...

      And we still are, these volcano's would be heating the ice from bellow, the icecaps are melting at the surface, forming water pools in the ice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TapeCutter (624760)
      "everyone was blaming global warming for the melting of the icecaps..."

      ...when really it was...what? - An Antartic volcano melting the Artic sea ice?
    • by VON-MAN (621853) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:49AM (#22124692)

      it (the eruption) cannot explain the more widespread thinning of West Antarctic glaciers that together are contributing nearly 0.2mm per year to sea-level rise. This wider change most probably has its origin in warming ocean waters.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        i seriously have to call bullshit on someone claiming they can measure an ocean to 0.2mm
        • by rucs_hack (784150) on Monday January 21, 2008 @06:05AM (#22124970)
          i seriously have to call bullshit on someone claiming they can measure an ocean to 0.2mm

          Yarr, it be an average, I'm sure you've heard of them. Oh yes, and 0.2mm is a pretty big number, rather easy to measure.
          • by Bob-taro (996889)

            Yarr, it be an average, I'm sure you've heard of them. Oh yes, and 0.2mm is a pretty big number, rather easy to measure.

            I think it's a valid question how they came up with that number. I suspect they estimated the volume of melted ice per year and divided that by the surface area of the oceans.

          • by dustmite (667870)
            Yeah, all those thousands of scientists are always making things up that would be insanely easy to refute yet magically nobody in the scientific community is able to --- fortunately we have more knowledgable people like rucs_hack on slashdot to "call bullshit" on them, as the entire rest of the world hadn't noticed this obvious thing. Why don't you actually go *learn* how they measure those things? Just because you personally DON'T KNOW how, doesn't meant the methods don't exist.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Shihar (153932)
            You should be skeptical when someone says they can say the ocean has risen 0.2mm. If that is the only number they have given, they are liars, stupid, or both. The world's oceans might very well have risen that much, and it might very well be something you can measure. That said, I can promise that there is an uncertainty in that measurement. Someone who fails to report their level of uncertainty is either incompetent or taking you for a ride. This is why I suggest taking newspaper science with a grain
        • by VON-MAN (621853)
          Seriously, 0.2mm isn't really difficult to measure with 21th century technology. And (even as the article doesn't explicitly say this) i'm sure it's an average.
        • i seriously have to call bullshit on someone claiming they can measure an ocean to 0.2mm
          I agree, how can you accurately measure the level of something that keeps moving up and down?
          • by Teun (17872)
            It's not measured but calculated from the amount of ice that melts and ends up in the oceans.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:20AM (#22124594)
    Then that really is a mighty volcano! What next, a volcano with an area larger than 100 elephants?
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      Aren't a lot of what lay people call a "volcano" typically larger then whales?
      • by Xest (935314)
        Yes, but not as often larger than wales.
        • by 0a100b (456593) on Monday January 21, 2008 @06:22AM (#22125036)
          I'm not familiar with the Imperial system. Can somebody tell me how many Kazakhstans this volcano measures?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            I'm pretty sure there are 15 Millihelens per Kazakhstan. Also, 2 Whales per Rosie O'Donnell.

            Remember, when working with imperial units, it's important to keep this distinction in mind: a keg of beer is half a barrel, but not just any barrel.
    • by jamesh (87723)

      What next, a volcano with an area larger than 100 elephants?

      That would be a pretty big volcano - remember, elephants are larger than the moon! [ytmnd.com]
      (yes, I know it's a hoax, but it's still pretty funny)
    • Not larger than a whale, larger than whales. All of them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by stereoroid (234317)
      Oh, like we didn't see that one coming... still, it's got some way to go before it's as big as Wales' head - Prince Charles of Wales, that is.
  • by psychicsword (1036852) * <The.psychicsword@com> on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:23AM (#22124604)
    There are thousands of volcanoes elsewhere on the globe I don't see why antarctic would be any different. I understand before we never had any proof and that is why it is news but I wouldn't say it is Earth shaking news.
  • How long? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374)
    How long before people start claiming these as being the source of the melting ice caps?
    • by jaxtherat (1165473) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:32AM (#22124634) Homepage
      Well, Monday January 21, @08:20PM according to the first post...
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Charcharodon (611187)
      ....hum let's see...the one area of ice caps that is showing massive amounts of melting, is sort right over the volcano......

      ...volcano under the ice...ice is melting...

      ...President Bush's fault!

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by ultranova (717540)

        ....hum let's see...the one area of ice caps that is showing massive amounts of melting, is sort right over the volcano......

        And has been for 2000 years, according to the summary. Why would it only begin melting in modern times, if the volcano is the cause ?

        ...President Bush's fault!

        Nah, but spreading lies - about climate change, about Iraq, and who knows what else - for personal gain sure is.

        It's January and there isn't any snow on the ground; in fact it's raining water. It's been like this year

        • Re:How long? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Charcharodon (611187) on Monday January 21, 2008 @08:03AM (#22125434)
          And has been for 2000 years, according to the summary. Why would it only begin melting in modern times, if the volcano is the cause ?

          Yeah with all that data we have colected by scientists during the days of the Roman Empire makes it easy to see those long term ice melting trends.....

          ....oh wait that's right you are a git and you are talking out your arse.

          Now for proper insults and arguments when you saying raining all the time, you haven't identified where you from. I'm assuming Europe. I've only spent a real amount of time in England, Norway, and Cyprus so my knowledge of weather is limited to those places.

          England does nothing but piss rain and rarely ever gets cold enough for snow, so you can hardly blame that on the US.

          Norwary rarely get's warm enough for anything but snow (I've only been there during the winter, froze my ass off.) so you can't be from there.

          Cyprus was nice and warm, and if that is what the world is going to be like after global warming then let's go for a drive in my SUV to go buy stuff that has alot of plastic packaging.

          The more I travel the more I realize that people are full of it, and can hardly lay all the worlds problems at the US's feet. I haven't seen anything in Europe that impresses me of your Green life style.

          You don't have any better driving habits than in the US. The only reasons you drive less (as in distance not in frequency, is your sky high taxes, shitty roads, and that you are willing to live shoulder to shoulder in town with barely any parking, is the only reason you guys drive small cars.

          Mild winters and summers also let's you off the hook for cooling and heating bills and the fact that you guys are willing to again be gouged by the utility companys. I can see why you use less. I'm still paying twice as much here in the UK (without AC) than I did while living in the California desert(with AC) which supposedly is supposed to be in the middle of a power crisis and having raised rates drastically in the last few years.

          Now the only point I'll conceed to you is the war in Iraq is pretty much a waste of time. The money would have been better spent buying everyone Priuses and solar panels for their homes and a nice candygram telling the Middle East to go fuck their mothers.

          Of course if we want to look at who has really caused all the problems in the Middle East and just about every other corner of the world all we have to do is take a look European history book. 400 years of European global policies and Empire building has made a real mess of things. The US has hardly had enough time to be blamed for much of it, but man does everyone scream bloody murder when we try to clean it up.

          • The only reasons you drive less (as in distance not in frequency, is your sky high taxes, shitty roads, and that you are willing to live shoulder to shoulder in town with barely any parking, is the only reason you guys drive small cars.

            That's not true. The most significant reason why Europeans drive less is exactly the same as the reason people in New York drive less: the cities were built before zoning and cars. Here in America, we're usually not allowed to "live shoulder to shoulder in town" because gove

            • :) You have a very valid point, the local village down the road has a tree in town that is something like 200 years older that the US. The Church in town is two hundred years older than the tree.
        • by dasunt (249686)

          And has been for 2000 years, according to the summary.

          And it erupted in 325BC, according to the article.

          I dunno about global warming, but I suspect that time traveling volcanoes will be a bigger problem. :p

          (Oh, and kudos to the editor or writer who (presumably) dropped the "more than" before "2000 years". Without your sloppy skills, the previous joke would not be possible.)

        • by bogjobber (880402)

          It's January and there isn't any snow on the ground; in fact it's raining water. It's been like this year after year lately. A decade ago it would be midwinter by now, with the temperature of -20 degree Celcius and snow covering everything in a beautiful white sheet. Instead we have endless rain and mud, year after year after year. And the monkey you call president has the gall to argue the change isn't real.

          And where I live the last couple years have been some of the coldest in memory and we are at 150

        • Because of course volcano activity is perfectly consistent and NEVER varies across decades or centuries.
        • It's January and there isn't any snow on the ground; in fact it's raining water.

          In Atlanta, we usually go the winter without having any snow, or at most a few flurries. This year, however, we've had two significant snow storms within the past week (where "significant" means it actually snowed for several hours at a time, and accumulated on things other than paved ground). Except for the "blizzard" (a.k.a. 2 inches of accumulation) of '93, it's the most snow I've ever seen in my life.

  • by Xiph (723935) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:28AM (#22124620)
    If volcanic activity is truly sending the glaciers into the ocean, local warming can have a real and serious effect on global climate.
    It's funny, Here in Denmark, we here alot about the potential consequences of global warming, about the millions of refugees it will create.
    Noone ever mentions that we'll probably be some of those refugees, Our tallest hill, has a height below 170,9 metres, or 560,6 feet above sealevel.

    Time for me to buy that land in south america.
    • by RuBLed (995686)
      or build an ark.. out of gopher wood...
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Can you survive a 1 m rise? Yes? Then you are good to go. Al Gore was full of shit when he mentioned 6 or 7 m.

      This doesn't mean that life isn't going to suck in Denmark. But at least you won't be completely swamped. When people talk about refugees they primarily mean due to desertification. The increased desertification won't extend that far north, but it is going to make life at equatorial latitudes suck even more than it does now. Heh, we might finally actually have the torrid clime. Wouldn't the
    • by PHPfanboy (841183)
      Yo, we'll look after your women if you need!
      We loves those Danish girls, oh yeah.
    • that scandinavia is still rebounding from the loss of its ice sheet in the last ice age

      i don't know the rate, but perhaps the rising seawater and the rising land should counteract each other in scandinavia

      i'm not really being that serious, just trying to bring some good cheer to you gloomy nords ;-)
      • Eastern Norway and Northern Sweden, yes. But not Denmark. Denmark is actually sinking slightly.
        • considering themselves scandinavian, and start considering themselves dutch
          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by jackpot777 (1159971)

            dutch

            Really? So they shouldn't consider themselves Danes then? Because they usually do.

            And what about the people from Holland that actually call themselves Nederlanders (but the English-speaking world calls them Dutch)?

            And what about the German descendents in Pennsylvania that called themselves Deutsch, but the Americans call them Dutch because they never thought words could be different in different languages. To the point where Arnie, an Austrian, gets to play a character called Dutch in the movie Predato

            • by Gilmoure (18428)
              I thought East Anglia was a car?
            • by Gilmoure (18428)
              ...due east of East Anglia in England.

              I thought East Anglia was a car?

            • In summary: Denmark is that bit that juts up to the north of Germany and has islands that stretch to Sweden. The Dutch live in the Netherlands, just north of Belgium and due east of East Anglia in England.


              Whoosh.

              The Dutch have had much success with land reclamation and floodwater management. GP was suggesting that the Danes should attempt the same.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Works [wikipedia.org]
      • by G3ckoG33k (647276)
        Sorry for the Danes, but that rise is only prominentin northern Scandinavia, with the tilting axis somewhere at the height of the northern tip of Denmark.

        In fact, Denmark is sinking at the rate of up to about half a centimeter a year, while northern Scandinavia rises up to about 2 cm a year.

        As you can image the contour of shallow coastal plains changes dramatically within a man's lifetime.
    • by DougWebb (178910)

      I wouldn't worry too much; another poster posted a quote that the sea level is rising 0.2mm/year. At that rate, your tallest hill has 850 thousand years before it'll go under.

      Two scenarios are more likely: one is that Denmark will become more temperate, with less brutal winters. The other is that the Gulf Stream will be interrupted, there won't be any more warn water sent up into the northern Atlantic, and Denmark will become the southern end of a new glacier/ice cap.

      Either way, you'll keep your head ab

      • I wouldn't worry too much; another poster posted a quote that the sea level is rising 0.2mm/year.

        Nope, TFA said this was CONTRIBUTING a fifth of a centimetre to the rise in sea levels.

        If I give five quid / Euros / dollars to a charity, that doesn't mean the charity has ONLY received five whatevers.

        Do you all see?

        For a technical-based forum, we certainly have a lot of people moving their fingers in tune to their beliefs before engaging brain first.

    • My family very sensibly left Denmark sometime around the 1060s - probably having had to look at one hardwood chair design too many - and settled in the UK. My suggestion is that being a refugee is perfectly OK provided you have a few fast and well armed ships, and politically incorrect attitudes to the people you come to visit. Worked for us and, based on subsequent Danish and British history, can work for you too. Alternatively, imitate the Dutch and build concrete houseboats for the flat, low lying bits.
    • by argStyopa (232550)
      Given where sea levels have been historically, I'd consider Denmark (as many other places) no more a 'permanent place to live' as the beach at low tide.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Phanerozoic_Sea_Level.png [wikipedia.org]

      (shrug)
  • Okay, probably not a good thing to post so frequently BUT...

    From TFA:

    Co-author Professor David Vaughan (BAS) says,"This eruption occurred close to Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The flow of this glacier towards the coast has speeded up in recent decades and it may be possible that heat from the volcano has caused some of that acceleration. However, it cannot explain the more widespread thinning of West Antarctic glaciers that together are contributing nearly 0.2mm per year to sea-level
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My little sister is so stupid she thinks Wales are fish. Duh, Wales are mammals.
  • "Alien" life? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:30AM (#22124632)
    One of the possibilities that this opens is that there is life that has been evolving separately from the rest of terrestrial life for millions of years. In theory life could live off the volcanic chemicals just as it does at undersea vents. This could be the really interesting part of the discovery.
  • by Bazman (4849) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:55AM (#22124720) Journal
    For those on the other side of the pond, the area of Wales is about that of New Jersey.

    Actually, given that they've located an area of possibly steaming ash and dust, maybe they just found New Jersey by accident.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      As volcanoes go, this rather large. I am reminded of the bit in Blue Mars [wikipedia.org] where the west Antarctic ice sheet slides off the continent in a few days and global sea levels rise by six metres.

    • by ArwynH (883499)

      How large is than in Libraries of Congress?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by moosesocks (264553)
      Do you mean to say that this volcano is spewing sheep?
    • by andphi (899406)
      As a Texan who was recently required to go to New Jersey on business, I can confirm that it is indeed brutally cold and utterly unfit for human habitation. The only liveable areas are the areas where no one currently lives.
  • must be me, but my first thought was "wow! what a splendid Bond villain hideout that would make!"

    ice on, lava below, inaccessible - threat of global destruction by melting the ice caps. now I just need several hundred minions wearing identical surplus overalls and large corridors I can drive my C5s, Mini Mokes and of course the G-Whiz down. Better order a brace of those new TATA mini cars to get with modern times and all the ladies have to wear mini skirts. Damn, better get back to work. :-)
  • there was nothing strange in the coordinates provided in the article, but i found this dark spot nearby [google.com]. Is this the 'evidence' ?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2008 @06:50AM (#22125142)
    This is very bad news (tm).

    There is a quite thick layer of soot and ash trapped inside the glacier. At some point when the glacier melts enough, that whole layer becomes visible and thus the reflection of sunlight from the glacier surface diminishes. And the melting speed increases dramatically. To make things worse, the layer will stay there for some time as it is bit warmer than the ice and so it bores small holes where to stay put instead of getting flushed away.

    And don't get me started on that active volcano under glacier. How it will react when the weight of the glacier eases rapidly? Possible earthquakes and that means tsunami.

    Funny thing, a Finnish author named Risto Isomäki has written a hard scifi book about the subject only couple of years ago. It's called the sands of Sarasvati.
    • by dargaud (518470)

      At some point when the glacier melts enough, that whole layer becomes visible and thus the reflection of sunlight from the glacier surface diminishes.
      Antarctic glaciers melt from the bottom due to pressure and geothermal fluxes... like being heated from below by a volcano ! While snow accumulates on top.
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Monday January 21, 2008 @07:53AM (#22125378)
    From http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1066484 [bbc.co.uk]

    Wales has, for decades, been used in the UK as a standard of measurement, not just of land mass but also of population, annual rain fall, tourist numbers and exports. Every large country's size was measured in 'Wales'es. Popular media, like radio and television have used the 'Wales', mainly in news reports.

            "The Americans have invaded Vietnam. This country in south east Asia is 14 times the size of Wales."

            "The Falklands have been invaded! These disputed islands, half the size of Wales, have been sought after by the Argentine government for decades."

    etc
  • You mean the country of Wales in the UK?
    That's a weird kind of comparison!
    But I suppose it's better than World Book Encyclopedia (1967) that kept comparing area to US States. And height comparisons to how many Empire State buildings etc etc.
    • That's a weird kind of comparison!

      Not as weird as in Texas, where people recently compared a UFO's size as bigger than a Walmart... [npr.org]
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ardle (523599)
        Here in my part of Papua New Guinea, a Wal-Mart is approximately 0.5M udus.
        Udu lives in the next village: he has a very flat head, therefore is an obvious unit of measurement.
        What's more, since we switched to the Udu from the Boko (Boko got arthritis, so was shrinking), our real-estate market has thrived :-)
  • by Minwee (522556)
    Whatever you do, don't go to investigate the volcanoes [dagonbytes.com]. Some things are best left undisturbed.
  • by luna69 (529007) *
    Whales aren't all THAT big...

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