Beneath Greenland’s massive ice sheets lies the country’s own grand canyon, and it is arguably more impressive than the one that attracts millions of visitors in Arizona every year.
The so-called “megacanyon” was discovered using airborne radar images taken by the US space agency NASA. They were then compiled by scientists at the University of Bristol.
The canyon is about 1.5 times the size of the Grand Canyon at 460 miles long, reports CNN. But beyond the size of the canyons, there is another big difference — Greenland’s massive chasm is buried under almost 2 miles of ice.
Bristol glaciologist Jonathan Bamber stated on Thursday that, while the canyon is longer than Arizona’s 277-mile wonder, it isn’t quite as deep. Instead, its depth ranges from 60 feet to 2,600 feet.
The massive canyon runs from the middle of Greenland to the country’s northern shore on the Arctic Ocean. It is believed to have been covered by ice for about four million years.
National Geographic notes that the Greenland grand canyon started as a system of rivers in the country’s hard bedrock surface. The research adds that the chasm is part of a valley system that carries meltwater from the inland ice sheet toward coastal fjords that connect with the Arctic Ocean.
While it helps funnel away meltwater, Bamber believes the canyon predates the massive ice sheet covering it. Before the land was covered completely by glaciers, there is evidence that melt from partial ice cover flowed through the bedrock canyons.Since then, the land’s features have remained stable, despite glaciation.
The canyon and other land under the Greenland Ice Sheet was mapped by Bamber and his colleagues using images compiled from flyovers from the past 30 years. In light of the discoveries under Greenland, Bamber added that he is curious to see what lies underneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
That mass of ice is 10 times the size of Greenland’s and sits on an incredibly complex topography that is comprised of bedrock, mountain ranges, canyons, and underwater lakes and rivers.
[Image by Hannes Grobe via Wikimedia Commons]