If you thought there was only one grand canyon on the planet, guess again. Turns out there’s another canyon, similar in magnificence to the Grand Canyon in the United States, but it’s in Antarctica and its made entirely of rock, snow and ice.
Check out the video below to see for yourself:
Created by tectonic forces of continental rifting and named the Ferrigno Rift, this canyon, a byproduct of the melting Pine Island Glacier, is nearly a mile deep, about six miles across and is roughly 62 miles long. It’s also an indication of a massive block of ice that’s about to break off Antarctica’s continental landmass.
Robert Bingham, a glaciologist at the University of Aberdeen and his assistant Chris Griffiths discovered the so-called Ferrigno Rift back in 2009-2010 when embarking on a rather dangerous expedition to the western portion of Antarctica, a region practically untouched by humans. Here, using radar equipment to measure the topography of the land, Bingham and Griffiths noticed a sudden, deep drop that spanned the length of the canyon as we now know it.
According to the two scientists, the glacier’s “march to the sea, and the overall effects could have implications for the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is responsible for 10 percent of global sea level rise that is currently happening.”
While landing on such a momentous and rare find is exhilarating, what Bingham and Griffiths found points to a much more dire situation that’s connected directly to a warming planet. Antarctica is said to be losing ice mass at an accelerated rate and the Ferrigno Rift will only expedite this process, allowing warm ocean water deeper into the continent.
Similarly, Greenland made recent global headlines after losing 97 percent of its ice surface in only four days.
Photo Credit: Christof Berger