Researchers discover Antarctic rift as big as the Grand Canyon

Researchers believe that a rift in the Antarctic that is as deep as the Grand Canyon is may be causing an increase in the amount of ice melt that is released from the cold continent.

Via the use of ice penetrating radar, a team from the UK was able to identify the Ferrigno rift and saw that it was almost 1.5km deep. Antarctica itself is home to an expansive geological rift system during which new crust is formed allowing the western and eastern halves of the continent to actually separate slowly from each other.

The team believes that as the canyon continues to deepen it is allowing warm sea water to mix with the ice sheet which is causing the melt to occur at a faster rate. The rift itself is very close to the Pine Island Glacier which is the location where scientists from Nasa discovered a different large craft last year.

The new rift is found on a remote stretch of coast that has only been previously visited by mankind one time. The area was first visited last year by Robert Bingham a glaciologist from Aberdeen University. The plan of the British Antarctic Survey is to record ground observations that will link satellite data that shows a large amount of ice loss.

The radar kit was pulled behind a snowmobile that covered a total of about 2,500km as part of the project and Dr. Bingham stated that at the end of the travel what they found is that under the ice is a large valley with some parts that are deeper than others. He explained that if you were to take away the ice you would see a feature that is as stunning as the valleys of Africa and the Grand Canyon in the US.