Scientists Locate Earth’s Largest Canyon

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Durham University, leading a team of international researchers believe they have discovered the largest known canyon on Earth. Utilizing precise satellite data and ground-penetrating radar, they have calculated it to be over 62 miles long and over half a mile deep at some points. More precise measurements will be necessary to confirm these findings, although that will be a difficult task considering that the canyon is buried under several miles of ice in Eastern Antarctica. The researchers suspect the canyon was either carved out of the bedrock by water flowing under the ice or is possibly so old that it existed even before Antarctica shifted to the South Pole via tectonic forces and froze over.

It is also believed that this canyon links up with a series of other canyons in the region and could possibly feed into a huge 777mi² sub-glacial lake. Dr Stewart Jamieson, lead researcher from the Department of Geography at Durham University says, “This is a region of the Earth that is bigger than the UK and yet we still know little about what lies beneath the ice. In fact, the bed of Antarctica is less well known than the surface of Mars. If we can gain better knowledge of the buried landscape we will be better equipped to understand how the ice sheet responds to changes in climate.” The research team hopes to collect the necessary data to confirm the size and scope of the newly-discovered canyon by the end of the year.


[Image Credit: Getty]

Antarctic Canyons: Dr Stewart Jamieson

New analysis of satellite data by a team of scientists led by Durham University shows that the world's largest canyon may lie under the Antarctic ice sheet. Although the discovery needs to be confirmed by direct measurements, the previously unknown canyon system is thought to be over 1,000km long and in places as much as 1km deep, comparable in depth to the Grand Canyon in USA, but many times longer.

Dr Stewart Jamieson from the Department of Geography explains.