Ancient River Network Found Hidden Beneath Greenland Ice Sheet

Posted: Jun 29 2016, 11:28am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Ancient River Network Found Hidden Beneath Greenland Ice Sheet
Greenland’s ancient river system. The ancient river network underneath Jakobshavn Isbræ basin is shown in black; a main stream of the catchment is marked by the solid red line. Bed elevation (between 300 and 1300 meters above sea level) is also shown. Credit: Cooper et al. via EOS
  • Mapping the Subterranean Rivers of Greenland

Scientists have been busy mapping the vast subterranean rivers of Greenland. They are apparently very wide and deep despite the fact that they are out of sight.

Several researchers in the field of geophysics have discovered a large water network beneath the surface of Greenland’s icy exterior. Once upon a time, it was visible over a large area of Greenland.

The grooves it made were very broad and reached immense depths. The area is the same as the Ohio River Basin. It goes way back in time to a period that was extant before the ice sheet formed 3.5 million years ago.

The radars that picked up this information clearly show a huge network of liquid dendrites below the snow-covered surface of Greenland. The size of this drainage region is 450,000 km.

It takes up 20% of the land area of Greenland which is a sizable portion of the country. The experts employed a digital elevation model. Double software packages were utilized in the data crunching that took place to get the results.

The dendrite network spreads out towards the inner areas of Greenland from Jacobshavn Glacier. Further analysis yields data that suggests that this network was in fact responsible for the formation of the Jacobshavn ice stream.

The computerized models not only reveal how the icy land mass looked like in the past but they show how Greenland will appear in the future. Several researchers collaborated on this project.

Airplanes with a radar facility on board were used in finding out more about what lay beneath Greenland. The basin looks as if it had been caused by erosion in the first place.

Age-old rivers may have been responsible for this. Glaciers wrought their effects time after time till the network of dendrites formed on a permanent basis. It is indeed quite an interesting find.

The flow of ice from the inner parts of Greenland to the edges was also influenced by this process. Why the ice formed such a thick layer in the end has left the scientists scratching their heads though.

However, with this internal map, many of the puzzling questions may get answered without any further ado. The inner parts may not be moving to the periphery as fast as they used to do so 9000 years in the past. The loss of land mass can also be calculated using this data. The flow of the ice sheet is what this is all about in the final analysis.

The research paper on this new discovery got published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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