Tags: nasa | volcanic | heating up | antarctica | mantle plumes

NASA: Volcanic Activity Heating Up Antarctica From Below

NASA: Volcanic Activity Heating Up Antarctica From Below
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 07 November 2017 05:42 PM

NASA says a mantle plume below West Antarctica's Marie Byrd Land is the cause for some of the glacial melting beneath the ice sheet.

Mantle plumes are areas of hot, upwelling mantle and are thought to be the cause of volcanic centers known as hotspots.

"Although the heat source isn't a new or increasing threat to the West Antarctic ice sheet, it may help explain why the ice sheet collapsed rapidly in an earlier era of rapid climate change, and why it is so unstable today," the study says.

Mantle plume activity has previously been proposed to explain magmatic events, and a scientist at the University of Colorado 30 years ago suggested that heat from a mantle plume under Marie Byrd Land "might explain regional volcanic activity and a topographic dome feature," according to the NASA study.

Recent seismic imaging conducted by two NASA scientists showed the concept was realistic, and that mantle heat in the region may reach the ice sheet through a rift, or a fracture in the Earth's crust.

Scientists in June published a report saying a 300,000-square-mile portion of the West Antarctica Ice sheet's perimeter was melting, and that it was caused by an unusually strong El Nino event around January 2016.

"Surface melt occurs sporadically over low-lying areas of the WAIS and is not fully understood," it said.

NASA suggests the mantle plume "could facilitate this kind of rapid loss."

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NASA says a mantle plume below West Antarctica's Marie Byrd Land is the cause for some of the glacial melting beneath the ice sheet.
nasa, volcanic, heating up, antarctica, mantle plumes
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2017-42-07
Tuesday, 07 November 2017 05:42 PM
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