Environment COLD ROCK: Antarctica researchers on solid ground

COLD ROCK: Antarctica researchers on solid ground

A geological breakthrough has delivered ground truth about what’s under all that ice in a remote part of Antarctica.

The bedrock underneath some of the most vulnerable ice sheets in East Antarctica matches sedimentary rocks buried in southern Australia’s Nullarbor desert.

The granitic bedrock found in Wilkes Land in East Antarctica suggests the two continents split off from each other much earlier than previously thought.

Researchers from the University of Tasmania and Macquarie University combined new data from remote Antarctic outcrops with magnetic data collected from the air.

PhD student Alessandro Maritati said Wilkes Land in East Antarctica is one of the last geological exploration frontiers on Earth.

“For years Wilkes Land has been a blank spot on geological maps,” Mr Maritati said.

“It was only recently that airborne geophysical surveys have allowed us to speculate about geology under the ice.”

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