Saturday, March 01, 2008
Could a volcano eruption shift the ice sheet in Antartica?
The West Antarctic rift is a region of volcanic activity and crustal stretching that is roughly the size of the western United States (from Salt Lake City to the Pacific Ocean). About 98 percent of it is buried beneath glacial ice, up to 2.5 miles thick, and bedrock beneath the ice is 2000--3000 feet below sea level over large areas. All of this makes it a difficult region to study. It is interesting nevertheless, because volcanic eruptions beneath the ice could destabilize the ice sheet, leading to as much as 25 feet of sea-level rise.