A massive cavern beneath a West Antarctic glacier is teeming with life

April 21, 2023


Science News


At the Kamb Ice Stream, a West Antarctic glacier 800 kilometers from the South Pole, you see nothing but flat ice extending in every direction. The ice is some 700 meters thick and stretches for hundreds of kilometers off the coastline, floating on the water

In late 2021, a team drilling through the ice sheet found dozens of orange blurs swimming and darting below the ice — evidence that this place, roughly 500 kilometers from the open, sunlit ocean, is nonetheless bustling with marine animals.

Seeing them was “just complete shock,” says Huw Horgan, a glaciologist formerly at the Victoria University of Wellington who led the drilling expedition.

The find is documented in Horgan, H., Dunbar, G., Hulbe, C., Schmidt, B., Stevens, C., Stewart, C., and Werder, M. and the KIS2 Science Team: Subglacial drainage across Kamb Ice Stream’s Grounding Zone, West Antarctica., EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-1820, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusph..., 2023.

Original article