Now, I’m not saying these lost continents were once roamed by giants and aliens or giant-alien hybrids (because they weren’t), but this is still very cool.
Antarctica is the one place on Earth where knowledge of basic lithospheric (the part of the Earth that we live on) features is incomplete. This is because it’s hidden under kilometers of ice. Now, however; information retrieved from the ESA’s GOCE (Gravity field and Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite is shedding more light on the mysterious surface that lies beneath the ice.
The findings from GOCE have revealed a difference between East and West Antarctica. They found that the crust under West Antarctica is thinner than East Antarctica. This suggests that at one point in the Earth’s geological history, West Antarctica was seabed.
East Antarctica, on the other hand shows a whole jumble of geological features known as cratons and orogens. Cratons are the remnants of truly ancient continents, while orogens are squashed up bits of plate commonly associated with mountain ranges.
According to co-author of the study, Fausto Ferraccioli, says the findings show the “fundamental similarities and differences between the crust beneath Antarctica and other continents it was joined to until 160 million years ago”
East Antarctica shows a striking resemblance to the geological make-up of India and Australia, which is relatively unsurprising as they used to be attached.
So does any of this matter? Obviously, it will be a while before anybody is down there exploring these newly found continents, seeing as there’s 2km of ice between us and them. That said, these findings can show scientists how Antarctica’s geological build-up influences its ice-sheets and can give an insight into how Antarctic regions will respond to melting ice.