Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A vast, high and entirely unexplored mountain range: the only catch is that it's buried under 2.5 miles of ice.
An Antarctic mountain range that rivals the Alps in elevation will be probed this month by an expedition of scientists using airborne radar and other Information Age tools to virtually "peel away" more than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of ice covering the peaks.

One of the mysteries of the mountain range is that current evidence suggests that it "shouldn't be there" at all.

The researchers hope to find answers there to some basic questions about the nature of the southernmost continent, including the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet. For instance, it is unclear how Antarctica came to be ice-covered in the first place and whether that process began millions of years ago in the enigmatic Gamburtsev Mountain range...

The scientists will eventually create a coordinated mosaic of images of the shallowest layers in the ice sheet to regions hundreds of kilometers beneath the hidden mountains, in effect creating a 3-D map of the vast and unexplored region...

Mountains of Madness, anyone? It's mindblowing just how thick the Antarctic ice sheets are: the South Pole lies at over 9,000 feet, but bedrock is thought to be near sea level.

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