back to article Deep beneath melting Antartic ice: A huge active volcano

Pity poor Antarctica: already shedding its land (but not its sea) ice, it's now been found to conceal a volcano of some considerable size beneath its frosty coating. Like a nicotine addict making a desperate attempt to hide in an airline toilet, this smoker had itself hidden – but instead of a couple of centimetres of door, …


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  1. Turtle

    "The Executive Committee"

    "The Executive Committee Range is a mountain range consisting of five major volcanoes, which trends north-south for 80 km (50 mi) along the 126th meridian west, in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica.[1]"

    "Discovered by the United States Antarctic Service expedition on a flight, December 15, 1940, and named for the Antarctic Service Executive Committee. Individual mountains (e.g. Hampton, Waesche) are named in honor of members of the committee, except for Mount Sidley, the most imposing mountain in the range, which was discovered and named by Rear Admiral Byrd in 1934. " (And more...)

    *I* think that that's kind of a funny story.

    1. stizzleswick

      "*I* think that that's kind of a funny story."

      Wait 'til your feet get wet, then re-think the comedy value :P

      And yes, I take the entire global warming thingy with a few grains of salt. But I do keep up with the actually happening science as opposed to the political garbage being spewed forth by the various political parties the world over...

      Mind you, where I am, I'll probably not get wet feet, but frozen ones. You see, Global Warming is a global average thing, as in the global average temperatures go up. That means that the temperatures go up more than they go down, in general, over the entire globe. But that is only the average development of temperatures. Which means that it is entirely possible and even likely that while on average, temperatures rise on a global level, in many places, the temperatures are still going down. World-over average, see?

      And unfortunately, I'm in one of the areas that get colder while much of the rest of the world gets nice and cozy... oh well, I'll get to do more skiing, at least...

    2. LarsG

      Doomed, doomed I say, we're all doomed!


      Meteors, disease, volcanos, tsunami, alien invasion......

      We've got no chance have we?

      1. Ted Treen

        But wait...

        What if one of your list gets Simon Cowell first..?

        1. Red Bren

          Re: Ted Treen

          What if one of your list gets Simon Cowell first..?

          Who do you think you are? Martin Gore?

      2. Euripides Pants

        Re: Doomed, doomed I say

        But the thing that'll actually wipe us out will be an unsanitzed telephone...

    3. Faux Science Slayer

      Re: "The Executive Committee"

      Earth has 259 trillion cubic miles of mostly molten rock, heated by over 2 million cubic miles of fissionable Uranium and Thorium. By-products include massive heat and 'elemental' atoms, see the Geo-nuclear tab at FauxScienceSlayer site.

  2. seven of five


    Volcanos? Hardly. Teutonic activity very much:

    These tremors are the result from the constant fighting the Nazis have to do against the last remaining dinosaurs, both of whom had chosen the same refuge.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Staberinde
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Volcanos?

      Teutonic activity? Not the Germans *again*...

      1. Ted Treen

        Re: Volcanos?

        "Not the Germans *again*...

        Natürlich:- Lebensraum unter dem Schnee

      2. asdf

        Re: Volcanos?

        >Teutonic activity? Not the Germans *again*...

        El Reg hasn't ran any stories about teutonic antics lately. The one about the old german chap (edit: he was Austrian sorry) that nailed his sack down accidently while working on his roof (vaguely remember) wasn't quite as amusing as the rest (definition of cringe worthy).

  3. LaeMing

    Green Mars

    I recall Kim Stanley Robinson predicted as much!

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Re: Green Mars

      I do as well, and as I recall it was bad news for every beach in the world. Guess I should rethink my old plan about purchasing a portion of the Mojave. I shall call it New Malibu.

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

    Very large quantity of ice + very large quantity of molten rock spewing over it --> trouble.

    This is not a problem now but for those with a worst case planning turn of mind it's definitely not a happy discovery.

    However thumbs up to the team for field work and finding this out before a whole bunch of people wake up one morning and find they need a boat.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

      Lots of volcanoes exist under glaciers. Mt Elbrus comes to mind. Or most of Iceland. It doesn't strike me as particularly worrisome as "moving at Xkm /million years" makes it likely to be a hotspot (like Hawaii) thus fairly minor, as these things go. (I would expect that if it were a fault line shied volcano (like Elbrus) there would be a whole mess of 'em roughly in a line.)

      Now, if there were a 40-kilometer-wide caldera down there harboring the next Yellowstone itching to let loose, soil your panties and panic. A regular old volcano, however is nothing to worry about, even with all the ice parked on top of it.

      1. Beau

        Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

        An up-vote for you Sir,

        A regular old volcano, you are right, that's nix.

        But a 40-kilometer-wide caldera, now that is talking climate change, yes!

        1. Elmer Phud

          Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

          After that nothing really matters - no more arguments.

      2. Mike Richards

        Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

        It does sound like a hotspot, but that doesn't mean it's nothing to worry about. It all rather depends if this is an elderly hotspot like the one under Hawaii which on average produces something like 0.1km3 of magma every year (a not inconsiderable 270 million tonnes) on average, or if it is a young plume which could produce between ten and one hundred times as much magma.

        Iceland is a good analogue for this with several very active volcanoes under major icecaps including Katla under the Mýrdalsjökull and Bárðarbunga (so should be a band name) and Grímsvötn under Vatnajökull. Eruptions are fairly regular and tend to have only local effects in the form of massive glacial floods called jökulhlaups; but the bigger eruptions - such as Katla in 1918 and Grímsvötn in 2011 can produce massive ash clouds.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

          @Mike Richards. You fail to mention the worst Icelandic volcanic erruption in recorded history, Laki, 1783.

          The erruption had serious repercussions in Europe. An estimated 23,000 deaths in the UK alone. Globally there was climate disruption lasting several years.

          1. Ian Michael Gumby

            @Nigel ... Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

            And how many aircraft were grounded?

            (Hint: I didn't say airplanes... ;-)

          2. Mike Richards

            Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

            Indeed Laki is the worst recorded eruption in modern Icelandic history but it was subaerial rather than subglacial. Of the two, I think I prefer the ones under the ice.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

          Iceland isn't a hotspot. Iceland is the result of the plates pulling apart. *big* difference.

          Also: even on Iceland, when a volcano goes it rarely takes the whole glacier with it. Even when it does, the glacier starts to reform almost immediately. (A few years).

          An isolated volcanic hotspot (which is going to produce *steady* quantities of magma, like Hawaii, or Erebus is not remotely the same as "oh shi-"-style volcanoes like Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.

          If you want to learn more, read up on Monut Erebus, a hotspot volcano that is "so terrifying" they build Mcmurdo station a mere 35km away, near the outflow of several of it's glaciers.

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

            >Iceland isn't a hotspot. Iceland is the result of the plates pulling apart.

            In terms of emerging real estate markets, it's the place to be! Get in on the ground floor, and you're golden.

          2. Mike Richards

            Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

            'Iceland isn't a hotspot. Iceland is the result of the plates pulling apart. *big* difference.'

            Huge difference, but Iceland's activity is driven by a hotspot - in fact its the dynamic uplift of low-density, upwelling Mantle under NE-Iceland that helps keep the island elevated above sea level. The Mid Atlantic Ridge North and South of Iceland, and indeed the section along the Reykjanes Peninsula is much less productive than the region associated with the hotspot.

   if you doubt me.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

              The concept of the "Icelandic hotspot" is heavily disputed. I personally don't buy into it as there seems to be no indication of a connection to the mantle. What's more, there's a negligible temperature delta between the so called "hotspot" magma and the rest.

              Iceland is more productive largely because there is more tectonic activity and the plates are diverging at a faster rate. That's really it. If there is some element of "hotspot" - which again, the evidence leads me to doubt - then all it is doing is providing additional raw magma. Is is the forces of the divergence boundary that causes the explosive eruptions. A hotspot connection would only mean they have more to work with.

              The volcano discussed in this article does not appear to be on a divergence boundary and thus there is no rational region to assume that it would behave any differently to the nearby Mount Eerebus or Mount Terror. (Or, for that matter, Hawaii.)

      3. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: the next Yellowstone

        I thought recent news suggested that the next Yellowstone would be Yellowstone?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hot rocks, water.....

    Wait for the movie.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Saunapocalypse

      saw five minutes of some time travelling Hot Tub film last night so will not 'Wait for movie'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Saunapocalypse

        Damn I can't think of anything orginal these days, even Saunapocalypse get hits on google.

        Next someone will invoke Rule 34 and say they were an extra in one filmed in the 70's.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Saunapocalypse

          'Next someone will invoke Rule 34 and say they were an extra in one filmed in the 70's.'

          Has anybody seen Jake?*





          *Tee hee hee!

  6. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge


    I watched a documentary recently and it actually proved that all of the sub glacial Antarctic noise and heat is coming from an underground pyramid complex which is heated by a giant electrical system designed by odd looking hunter type blokes from space.

    After decyphering all of the writing found, the conclusion was that there seem to be these alien Olympics that take place every now an then between these black slithery acidy things with long tails, and some tall pig faced chaps with space-spears; and all of this "sport" causes a right old underground rumpus.

    Apparently also, only one of the scientists who put together the documentary survived to tell the story.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Incorrect...

      If you're going to make up a good story, you might as well steal the best bits from HP Lovecraft.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incorrect...

      Damn, I wanted to be the first

    3. vonRat

      Re: Incorrect...

      I don't suppose this scientist was in their mid-twenties, rather attractive, top of their field and fully trained in all forms of armed combat?

    4. Hungry Sean

      Re: Incorrect...

      surely it is an enormous, prehistoric shark caught by a chilly glacial current during its struggles with a terrifyingly tentacled cephalopod back in the jurassic. Global warming has weakened the ice just enough that their battle can resume. That's right, a mega-shark vs. a giant octopus. Scientists would investigate further, but they're afraid there might be snakes on the plane.

    5. Jerren

      Re: Incorrect...

      A group frisky penguins where having a prolonged shag on top of the seismograph... nothing to see here ya can't find on natgeo folks...

  7. codejunky Silver badge

    Where is it?

    Where is that warming missing from my MMCC co2 theory models? Ahaaaa! A volcano, maybe I can blame that!

    Sorry I am just waiting for it.

  8. All names Taken

    I wonder what that magma might do if the weight of melting ice starts a bit of uplifting around the calder (or anywhere in the vicinity really)?

    You earthlings really do need your Doctor no?

    (oops I meant the other one - not the James Bond variant)

  9. Bunbury

    Moving South

    I've sprained my brain trying to work out what "moving South at 9.6Km per million years" means. What is the frame of reference? Does this mean "moving relative to the crustal plate" or does it mean "moving relative to the magnetic pole" or does it mean "relative to the axis of rotation of the Earth".

    Assuming that the heat source is a convection plume in the mantle, do all such plumes stay roughly stationary relative to each other? i.e. does this plume stay at a constant distance from the Hawaiian, Icelandic, etc plumes. Other do they wander?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Moving South

      Dunno about the antarctic one, but the Hawaiian plume is moving AND the plate is moving above it.

      It's likely to be the same story at other hotspots, although I'm surprised Iceland has managed to stay relatively stationary for so long.

      1. Andrew Newstead

        Re: Moving South

        Iceland sits at the "pivot point" of the Mid Atlantic ridge, the line of tectonic sea floor spreading that's pushing America away from Africa and Europe. Esentially Iceland is being split apart so it's volcanoes are being caused by a different mechanism.

        To get an idea of what's happening have a look at this;

    2. An ominous cow herd

      Re: Moving South

      Maybe they used a time frame like that one because "0.96 cm per year" doesn't sound that impressive.

  10. Cosmin Roman
    IT Angle

    it's Washington Uni, not Washing ...

    (having been there recently for a conference, I should know).

    Also, IT angle? :) (although, you guys can probably remove that icon, EVERYTHING has an IT angle these days).


    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: it's Washington Uni, not Washing ...

      Also, IT angle? :)

      Hotspots? :p

      1. Cosmin Roman

        Re: it's Washington Uni, not Washing ...

        upvote :)

        but let's not forget the plume, which can form a _cloud_ ...

    2. jr424242

      Re: it's Washington Uni, not Washing ...

      Upvote on the correction. (And don't confuse it with the University of Washington, either.)

      Downvote on the IT angle. It is well known that "it" can refer to any object in the English language.

      Upvote on El Reg coverage of climate news, which is better than other sources costing 10 times more.

  11. GotThumbs

    Global warming - Revealed.

    Is this another hole in the Global Warming message?

    Just wanted to poke any sleeping bears out there. :-)

  12. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    It just shows us that while mankind can truly cock things up bigtime (eg Fukushima) nature will always win when it comes to maximal disruption with equally maximal surprise no?

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