Volcano Deep Down Could Be Melting Greenlandís Ice

by Medindia Content Team on  December 15, 2007 at 4:49 PM Environmental Health
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Volcano Deep Down Could Be Melting Greenlandís Ice
A thin spot in the Earth's crust is enabling underground magma to melt Greenland's ice, scientists at the Ohio State University feel.

According to them, the "hotspot" is located in the northeast corner of Greenland -- just below a site where an ice stream was recently discovered.

The researchers don't yet know how warm the hotspot is, but if it is warm enough to melt the ice above it even a little, it could enable the ice to slide more rapidly out to sea.

To measure actual temperatures beneath the ice, scientists will have to drill boreholes down to the base of the ice sheet-- a mile or more below the ice surface. The effort and expense make such measurements few and far between, especially in remote areas of northeast Greenland.

"The behaviour of the great ice sheets is an important barometer of global climate change," said Ralph von Frese, leader of the project and a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University.

"However, to effectively separate and quantify human impacts on climate change, we must understand the natural impacts, too," he added.

Von Frese's team combined gravity measurements of the area taken by a Naval Research Laboratory aircraft with airborne radar measurements taken by research partners at the University of Kansas.

The combined map revealed changes in mass beneath the Earth's crust, and the topography of the crust where it meets the ice sheet.

According to the researchers, below the earth's crust is the mantle, the partially molten rocky layer that surrounds its core.

The mantle is so hot that temperatures just a few miles deep in the crust reach hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit, von Frese explained.

"It could be that there's a volcano down there. But we think it's probably just the way the heat is being distributed by the rock topography at the base of the ice," he said.

The ice thickness, the temperature at the base of the ice, and ground topography all contribute to the forming of an ice stream -- a river of ice that flows within a larger ice sheet.

In recent years, Greenland ice streams have been carrying ice out to sea faster, and ice cover on the island has been diminishing.

Once the ice reaches the sea, it melts, and global sea levels rise.

"Where the crust is thicker, things are cooler, and where it's thinner, things are warmer. And under a big place like Greenland or Antarctica, natural variations in the crust will make some parts of the ice sheet warmer than others," von Frese added.

The ice sheet in northeast Greenland is especially worrisome to scientists. It had no known ice streams until 1991, when satellites spied one for the first time.

Dubbed the Northeastern Greenland Ice Stream, it carries ice nearly 400 miles, from the deepest interior of the island out to the Greenland Sea.

The newly discovered hotspot is just below the ice stream, and could have caused it to form, the researchers concluded. But what caused the hotspot to form?

"It could be that there's a volcano down there. But we think it's probably just the way the heat is being distributed by the rock topography at the base of the ice," said von Frese.

Collaborator Kees van der Veen, a visiting associate professor of geological sciences and research scientist at Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State, said: "Our map is the first attempt at quantifying spatial variations in geo-heat under Greenland -- and it explains why the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream is where it is."

For now, the researchers are combining theories of how heat flows through the mantle and crust with the gravity and radar data, to understand how the hotspot is influencing the ice.

Once they finish searching the rest of Greenland for other hotspots, they hope to turn their attention to Antarctica.

Timothy Leftwich, von Frese's former student and now a post-doctoral engineer at the Centre for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at the University of Kansas, presented the study's early results on Thursday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Source: ANI

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Thank You for showing both intelligence and reason. I believe that you are correct because I was looking for this same specific possibilty, and had typed in the specific keywords. In other words a projection test of a theorem. The Vostok ice core and the Greenland ice core both agree. Due to the nature of the cores however, the quantitative data must be considered corrupt due to slow diffusion approaching a balance, but never reaching it, and therefore invalid. The qualitative data showing pointa of inflection is still fully valid. The latter indicates a planetary body massive enough to effect the sun in regards to the earth that passes though about every 10,000 years. This has to be observed for what comes next. Essentially, our companion may every two or three rounds cause the sun to make havoc on the Earth and the icecores may show this within the great cycle of 100,000 more or less years, but othrerwise has absolutely no effect on the greenland icecap. Every 80,000 years to 120,000 years the northern hemisphere experiences a major event where Greenland melts down in total, not just the edges. It is overdue. This can be deduced because of the agreement between Greenland and Vostok. However, greenland shows one cycle vs four for vostok. Therefore Greenland melted down to start a new icecap. It is possible that the weight of the ice may be the trigger. The ice drives the land into the hotspot, the area melts down, destoys human life as we know it, and 100,000 years later it happens again.


In the universe there is a natural balance of action and opposite reaction like black/ white, good/bad etc. Global warming is just a set up for a small ice age. The first volcano in Iceland, then the magma rise in Greenland, causing lower level melting has caused the glacier to slide into the ocean. This will stop the Golf stream flow. The jet stream and golf stream are connected as part of the earth's life cycle. When this happens all hell will break loose.It is best to find a safe place near the Equator, where maybe I will see you.

Watch listen and survive.

Robert.M. Watson Indiana

I have a look at lots global warming reports and then I look at all places they say that the ice is melting. There has been volcanoes in the areas and several eruption. We then thought global Warming was a lie. It is natural, science does not look at history very well. Climate change has gone on since the beginning of the world. In fact without global warming the earth would freeze and we will all die. So the ice is melting and we are killing the worlds is no more then lobbyist and government way of suckering our money way from ignorant, apocalyptic thinkers. I see where Al Gore stands to make a lot of money from cap and trade. lmao, be is simply playing on apocalyptic fears of people too lazy to do any research.


Ancient earth is changing if you consider it minus humans, man as usual has a need to "control" the situation, raise alarms, what if this is natural change, not global warming as scientist say? I agree with these scientist. It is better than agreeing with global warmers who want people to die for the sake of "green" and their belief they can control nature again, you don't control nature, nature is stronger than man, and will do as it will. You can not stop what is happening it is beyond your control. More disaster will happen as earth naturally changes just as if we were not here. Perhaps the humans need to all leave, Earth would still be here doing its thing with or without us.


Come on, are we a bunch of left's or right's? Yes nature happens and does it's own thing. However we closed minded people have to see both sides. Have anyone of you been to the California valley or driven down into L.A. I guess to die in your garage is natural when you leave your car on. It has to be fossil fuels that came from nature. Right.


Very interesting, volcanic activity in Western Antarctica (the only place the Antarctic is melting and a geothermal activity in Greenland (were the streams were discover.) AGW may not be the only cause for ice melting. AGW from C02 is an easy answer to a system that is more complicated than our current knowledge.

Our best tool in monitoring the caps, satellite images, started in 1979. 1979 was like yesterday to me, in geologic time 1979 is such a short time that it is immaterial.

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