Antarctica discovery of ‘warm caves' offered stunning evidence for life beneath ice
Mount Erebus is Antarctica's second-highest active volcano, after Mount Sidley, and the southernmost active volcano on Earth. With a summit elevation of 3,684 metres, it is located on Ross Island, an island formed by four volcanoes in the Ross Sea. It has been active for around 1.3 million years and could help provide evidence for a secret world of animals and plants beneath the icy continent.
Surrounding Mount Erebus is an intricate system of caves, hollowed out in the ice by steam.
These caves were explored during an extensive study led by the Australian National University, in which researchers found how steam produced from the volcano travels through open spaces, melting passageways through the network of caves in the process.
The team said the caves are light and could reach temperatures of 25, making them potential breeding grounds for life.
The study was published in 2017 and led by Dr Ceridwen Fraser, Laurie Connell, Charles K. Lee and S. Craig Cary.
At the time, Dr Fraser said: "It can be really warm inside the caves - up to 25 in some caves.
"You could wear a t-shirt in there and be pretty comfortable.
"There's light near the cave mouths, and light filters deeper into some caves where the overlying ice is thin."
GETTY Warm caves in Antarctica
Carrying out DNA analyses of soil taken from the caves, the team found evidence for organisms including algae, moss and small invertebrate animals.
This did not come as a surprise because many of these species are found elsewhere in Antarctica.
But not all sequences could be fully identified.
Dr Fraser explained: "The results from the study give a tantalising glimpse of what might live beneath the ice in Antarctica - there might even be a new species of animals and plants.
"The next step is to go and have a really good look and see if we can find communities living beneath the ice in Antarctica."
No definitive evidence was found to suggest that anything was currently living, but signs that things used to live there were present.
The initial discoveries were just scraping the surface, as co-researcher Charles Lee explained that there are more than a dozen active volcanoes in Antarctica, all of which have similar caves, which can be mapped through radar techniques.
BBC/Chadden Hunter BBC teams explore the ice caves of Mount Erebus.
Most, however, are inaccessible to humans.
Professor Laurie Connell said: "The next steps will be to take a closer look at the caves and search for living organisms. If they exist, it opens the door to an exciting new world."
Despite their discoveries, the study's author conceded that they still know "little" about life inside the cave networks, which "may harbour diverse and complex communities".
But, the discoveries have prompted speculation as to whether extraterrestrial life could be found in Antarctica.
David Childress, author of a number of books focusing on pseudoarchaeological and pseudoscientific topics, spoke to the recent Sky History documentary 'Ancient Aliens'.
The documentary's narrator said recent scientific work has discovered some of these cave networks could be as large as the entire island of Manhattan.
Mr Childress said: "Here we have a huge, apparently, underground world, beneath Antarctica and this could be used by extraterrestrials as these ready-made bases that are underground and are hidden."
One conspiracy theorist believed he had found evidence for extraterrestrial life on an Antarctic island in 2020.
UFO hunter Scott C Waring claimed he had spotted a supposed spaceship on the Lavoisier Island using Google Maps.
He said he had discovered a triangle craft with a hump in the middle, which looked metallic and was "sitting in an area which appears to be the location of an ancient alien base".
Others, however, dismissed his claims, instead arguing that it was simply a rock ridge.
Reference:Daily Express: Charlie Pittock
Articles - Latest
- Underwater sea turbines ‘could supply 10% of the UK’s energy’
- Gary Waldhorn dies aged 78
- Ronnie Spector, pop singer who fronted the Ronettes, dies aged 78
- Archaeology breakthrough: Ultra-rare bionic armour discovered in ancient China burial
- Former Neighbours star who played Sky Mangel dies in her sleep aged 34
- Antarctica discovery of ‘warm caves' offered stunning evidence for life beneath ice
- Wolf Moon 2022: What is a wolf moon and how best to see the full moon in Edinburgh
- Maria Ewing obituary
- China Moon rover unveils true identity of 'mystery hut' on lunar surface: ‘It's brilliant'
- Dinosaur hunters find 180-million-year-old 'sea dragon' skeleton with one-tonne skull
- Archaeology breakthrough as 'cursed' shipwreck discovered after 350 years
- At least 22 dead as heavy snow traps people in cars at Pakistan resort
- The Bill star George Rossi died from pancreatic cancer surrounded by family
- James Webb Space Telescope nails secondary mirror deployment
- Labour MP Jack Dromey dies aged 73
- Director Peter Bogdanovich dies
- Sinéad O’Connor’s son Shane dies, aged 17
- Bill Bryden obituary
- Oscar winner and groundbreaking star Sidney Poitier dies
- Disney+ star Kim Mi-soo dies 'suddenly' age 29, her agent confirms
- Prominent QAnon conspiracy theorist dies from Covid after saying only ‘idiots’ get vaccinated
- Oscar-winning composer Marilyn Bergman dies aged 93
- James Mtume, jazz and funk musician, dies aged 75
Articles - Most Read
- Contact Us
- Cosmic Consciousness - What is Cosmic Consciousness-2
- Cosmic Consciousness-Introduction
- Cosmic Consciousness - Introduction-2
- The science behind Ouija boards
- The Human Condition-Thomas Keating
- Cosmic Consciousness First Words - 1V - 2
- Cosmic Consciousness - What is Cosmic Consciousness?
- Cosmic Consciousness First Words - V -
- Cosmic Consciousness V - 2
- Cosmic consciousness - First Words - IV
- Cosmic Consciousness-On the Plane of Self Consciousness
- The Human Condition - 4
- Drinking From The Mountain Stream - Milarepa
- Evolution and Devolution-Chapter 2
- The Human Condition-2-Thomas Keating
- The Human Condition - Thomas keating-3
- Evolution and Devolution-Chapter 1
- Cosmic Consciousness - 3 - On the Plane of Self Consciousness
- The Human Condition - 6
- Web Links
- Milarepa's World
- On the Plane of Self Consciousness - 2
- The Human Condition - 5
- Milarepa's World-2
- The Buddhist System of Liberation
- On the Plane of Self Consciousness IV
- The Buddhist System of Liberation - 2
- On the Plane of Self Consciousness IV - 2
- Contemplation and the Divine Therapy - 2
- Contemplation and the Divine Therapy
- Shakyamuni Buddha or India the 1st “Black Revolutionary Hero.”
- JERRY RAWLINGS, GHANAIAN STRONG MAN WHO CAME TO POWER IN A COUP BUT INTRODUCED DEMOCRACY – OBITUARY