The fossil lake buried under the ice

It is common to find animal fossils beneath the surface. In other cases you will find plant fossils. But sea fossils? Yes, they also exist and are being discovered today. Researchers from Columbia University (USA) found one. It was hundreds of thousands or millions of years under the Greenland ice. This is the story of the fossil lake buried under the ice.

The fossil lake under the Greenland ice, photographed by NASA.
The fossil lake buried under the Greenland ice, photographed by NASA.

This lake is part of the “lost world” that lies beneath the frozen “crust” of Greenland. There are mountains, gorges, rivers and lakes. Due to global warming, there is less and less ice on it.

In the last year alone, 50 subglacial lakes were discovered in Greenland. They are bodies of water trapped between the rocky bed and the ice above. On this occasion, the basin of an old lake that was long dry was discovered. It’s under 1.8 kilometers of ice. These results were published in the journal “Earth and Planetary Science Letters”.

This lake was formed when there was no ice in the region. It reached a considerable length of 7,100 kilometers. According to his calculations, about 580 cubic kilometers of water were stored.

The most important thing is the inside

The most interesting thing for scientists is to study the sediments that fill the basin. You are like a time capsule of what happened in Greenland. “It could be an important source of information about a landscape that is completely inaccessible and hidden today.” Says it for Guy Paxman, director of studies and researcher at Columbia University (USA).

The path to this lake can help scientists understand Greenland
The path to this lake can help scientists understand Greenland’s past.

“If we could get to these sediments, they could tell us when the ice is missing or present,” he explains. This would be crucial for studying the past climates and conditions of Greenland.

The basin was observed thanks to NASA’s “IceBridge” mission. It is an overview of the polar regions of the world from airplanes. Radar, gravity and magnetism measurements were used.

This ancient lake existed in a warmer time. It must have been the result of moving the country due to a bug that is currently inactive. If the basin could be drilled, it would have access to an incredible resource.

“The fossil lake buried under the ice would tell us how Greenland’s ice has behaved in the past,” Paxman concludes. “It is important if we also want to understand how it will behave in the coming decades.”

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