Pasadena, Calif. (UPI) Oct 15, 2010
An Antarctic mountain range, buried in ice and out of view, has escaped the erosion experienced by other mountain ranges on Earth, U. S. researchers say.
The Gamburtsev Mountains are evidence of a counterintuitive theory that glaciers don't always carve down and erode mountains but can in certain conditions protect them, ScienceNews.org reported Friday.
"It's feasible for topography to be preserved," Stephen Cox, a graduate student at Caltech and coauthor of a study paper, says.
The study of the range's erosion rate during the past 250 million years found the Gamburtsevs eroded just 1-1/2 miles to 5 miles, an order of magnitude slower than modern erosion in places like the Alps and other mountain ranges.
Cold glaciers or ice sheets atop the mountains could have protected them from experiencing normal erosion rates, Cox and his fellow researchers suggest.
"When you get to colder climates, glaciers are actually frozen to the rock," says geologist Stuart Thomson of the University of Arizona in Tucson, a coauthor of the paper. "They flow a little, but they don't erode much at all."
Radar surveys through the ice have confirmed the range is unusually rugged, with V-shaped valleys rather than the U-shaped ones characteristic of normal glacial erosion.
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Beyond the Ice Age
Atlanta GA (SPX) Aug 20, 2010
While Arctic sea ice has been diminishing in recent decades, the Antarctic sea ice extent has been increasing slightly. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology provide an explanation for the seeming paradox of increasing Antarctic sea ice in a warming climate. The paper appears in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science the week of August 16, 20 ... read more
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