Huge Canyon Hidden Under Greenland's Ice

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Just when we thought we’ve seen all there is to our global landscape, University of Bristol researchers have found a canyon, comparable in size to the Grand Canyon, under 1 mile of Greenland’s ice.

The earth never ceases to amaze us with her magnificent mysteries and beauty. Just when we thought we’ve seen all there is to our global landscape, University of Bristol researchers have found a canyon, comparable in size to the Grand Canyon, buried a mile deep beneath Greenland’s ice sheet.

At least 460 miles long and, in places, as deep as 2,600 feet, this canyon is longer than Arizona’s natural wonder and comparable in depth.

Invisible to our eyes under all that ice, the canyon’s vast structure has been computer generated using airborne radar data gathered over decades. NASA's Operation IceBridge, which analyzes polar ice, collected much of the data. One particular instrument sees past the ice and calculates the bedrock’s density and form.

The canyon’s waterway flows from the island’s center to the northern tip underneath the Petermann Glacier fjord. Researchers think it carries sub-glacial meltwater into the ocean. Prior to Greenland’s ice sheet forming several million years ago, it was probably a primary river system.

David Vaughan, from the British Antarctic Survey, said, “A discovery of this nature shows that the Earth has not yet given up all its secrets…this work can help us put current changes in context.”

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