back to article Antarctica declared world's most volcanic region as 91 new cones found beneath ice

Boffins from the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences have found 91 previously unknown volcanoes beneath the West Antarctic Ice Shelf, a total that suggests it might be the most volcanic region on Earth. In a paper [PDF] titled “A new volcanic province: an inventory of subglacial volcanoes in West Antarctica”, …

  1. Nolveys Silver badge
    Alien

    Interesting...

    If there is heat down there then I wonder if there's any liquid water. Could there be lifeforms splubbeling about down below? Giant albino penguins perhaps?

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: Interesting...

    Let's not go there...ok? There might just be things down there we don't want to see released such as ancient bacteria or viruses. Or perhaps... something worse (see icon).

    Disclaimer.. I'll avoid politics on this though as we know, politicians are evil.

  3. DougS Silver badge

    Re: Interesting...

    Ancient bacteria and viruses are getting released anyway, as glaciers that have been around for a very long time are melting, as well as permafrost.

    There's probably not a source of oxygen, so the life down there is probably extremophiles like those found in deep sea vents.

  4. the Jim bloke Bronze badge
    Alert

    Re: Interesting...

    Those poor antediluvian bacteria and virusesess (no actual plural apparently) are a serious concern - having spent so long in a constrained and sheltered environment, they will not have developed mechanisms to defend themselves against the wider, more competitive ecosystem.

    The delicate little darlings will poke their metaphorical heads out of the ice caverns, look around... and get steamrolled by a deluge of modern hyper-aggressive - possibly even genetically modified and weaponized if you believe in those - microfauna .

    Virgin field epidemic.

    We must act to protect and preserve these prehistoric relics !

  5. Alien8n Silver badge

    Re: Interesting...

    Viruses is the correct plural of virus. The various alternatives of vira, viri and virii being wrongly attributed (the latin vir actually meaning man, not really surprising given the discovery of viruses not happening until 1892)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Interesting...

    they are probably massive carbon eaters. Earth's defense for global warming. Kind of like the mysterious bacteria that showed up after the massive oil spill.

    It's all in the master plan.

  7. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: Interesting...

    "There's probably not a source of oxygen, so the life down there is probably extremophiles like those found in deep sea vents."

    Life can survive on methane too...

  8. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: Interesting...

    "they are probably massive carbon eaters"

    Well except that CO2 is very stable so doesn't react with much. And when it does react it tends to make acidic compounds...

  9. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Interesting...

    We must act to protect and preserve these prehistoric relics !

    Oi! You can't talk about me..

    Oh - viruses? Carry on then. They don't have lawyers :-)

  10. hatti

    Re: Interesting...

    Splubbeling - lovely word -earned you an upvote

  11. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: Interesting...

    "If there is heat down there then I wonder if there's any liquid water."

    There doesn't need to be that much heat for water at extreme pressures... They have already found bacteria in similar under ice lakes,

  12. redpawn Silver badge

    I've seen this movie before.

    Remember Gamera is a good turtle!

  13. wolfetone Silver badge

    So, is Antarctica signed up to the Paris Climate Accord now then?

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Cone shaped <> active and implies "relatively" young as not eroded.

    And the method they use cannot tell if they are active.

    Still good to know. Definitely worth further investigation. Nice work.

    But Cthulhu is coming.

    Why vote for the lesser evil?

  15. S4qFBxkFFg

    Recommended reading if the Cthulhu/Antarctica thing piques your interest: A Colder War

  16. Alan J. Wylie Silver badge

    And does the radar have sufficient resolution to differentiate between cones and pyramids?

  17. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Or Stross' Laundry series - the hero is deliberately named Bob Oliver Francis Howard.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laundry_Files

    Highly recommended if you like comedy horrors which are Spy/sysadmin/Cthulhu mashups.

    Charlie occasionallly comments on here and was tweeting yesterday about stories on El Reg.

  18. Tony Paulazzo

    Gateway to the Hollow Earth found! What next, Flat Earth?

  19. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Ocean ridges

    I suspect most of the world's volcanoes lie along the ocean ridges; pumping out carbon dioxide into the oceans on a greater scale than men burning coal and oil.

    I therefore predict that all those climate change policies imposed on us by campaigners will make s*d all difference to the earth's climate.

  20. David Roberts Silver badge

    Re: Ocean ridges

    I think that sod all difference may be a bit extreme.

    Possibly make less difference than some optimistically assume?

    As far as I can recall, one big global event such as a massive erruption which pollutes the stratosphere is likely to dwarf our puny efforts in the short term.

  21. Comedy of Errors

    Re: Ocean ridges

    Rubbish

    Volcanoes: 65 to 319 MILLION tonnes of CO2 per year (min/max estimates)

    Man: 34 BILLION tonnes of carbon dioxide per year

    Source: https://www.skepticalscience.com/volcanoes-and-global-warming.htm

  22. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: Ocean ridges

    "As far as I can recall, one big global event such as a massive erruption which pollutes the stratosphere is likely to dwarf our puny efforts in the short term."

    In the short term, yes. And we are then talking about vast eruptions, not your average event.

  23. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: Ocean ridges

    "I suspect most of the world's volcanoes lie along the ocean ridges; pumping out carbon dioxide into the oceans on a greater scale than men burning coal and oil."

    We already know roughly how much CO2 they contribute and it's in general much less than us. A very large eruption can briefly make a notable contribution but overall it's insignificant compared to what we do....

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Ocean ridges

    The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo actually caused global cooling. Nothing to do with CO2.

    However, the newly discovered Antarctic volcanoes could still be inconvenient for global warming alarmists if it turns out that they, not global warming, are responsible for the melting ice sheet.

  25. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Re: Ocean ridges

    @Comedy..

    An active volcano can emit 1000 tons of lava per second. If 1% of that is CO2, that is 10 tons per second. Lets estimate there are 1000 volcanoes, if the ocean ridges are included. So 1E4 tons per second, or 3E11 tons per year.

    Kind of dwarfs the human output.

  26. Tom 64
    FAIL

    Re: Ocean ridges

    > "I suspect most ..."

    Given that your suspicion does not represent any measurable data at all, you wont mind if we feel free to roundly reject your hypotheses completely, will you? Possibly with added ridicule?

    There's a good chap.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Skepticalscience?

    Yeah Right. About as factual as The Alex Jones Channel.

  28. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: Ocean ridges

    "The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo actually caused global cooling. Nothing to do with CO2."

    It's generally caused by Sulphur particles in the atmosphere. It's a known temporary side effect of very large eruptions.

  29. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: Skepticalscience?

    " Skepticalscience?

    Yeah Right. About as factual as The Alex Jones Channel."

    That's a site generally accepted as being scientifically accurate based on established scientific data and widely accepted theories.

    Here is a more upside but less certain article on volcanic CO2 levels. Note that even worse case, it's still a tiny fraction of human CO2 output:

    https://www.livescience.com/40451-volcanic-co2-levels-are-staggering.html

  30. BoldMan

    "Hey guys I've just found this weird inscription... it just says the same word three times... Hastur Hastur..."

  31. Qwelak

    Expect to find some very drunk Goldfish down there

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/12/goldfish_carp_oxygen_ethanol/

  32. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    I for one

    welcome the return of the Great Old Ones.

  33. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: I for one

    welcome the return of the Great Old Ones.

    Very briefly, before you fail your SAN roll and start counting sand-grains on a beach[1] for the rest of your life..

    [1] Which is what happened to one of my characters in CoC - gained some Cthulu Mythos skills, met a few monsters, catastrophically failed my SAN roll and started a new character. For a person that mainly plays spell-casters in other game systems, CoC is not a good game to play..

  34. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Re: I for one

    Funnily enough, pretty sure my current job is counting sand-grains on a beach for the rest of my life.

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    People who think humans can't change the climate should study the history of CFC's

    First sold in 1930, banned in 1987.

    We are still living with the consequences of their use.

    What's needed is something that can bond to enough Cl radicals and drag them back down, but no one knows how to do that.

  36. samzeman
    Joke

    Re: People who think humans can't change the climate should study the history of CFC's

    Spray radical alkanes up there, and you'll get some nice chloroalkanes from it. Harmless, except for the toxicity and all that.

  37. cray74 Silver badge

    Re: People who think humans can't change the climate should study the history of CFC's

    First sold in 1930, banned in 1987. We are still living with the consequences of their use.

    And watching the recovery from it. The ozone layer should recover by 2075-2100. Along with the recovery of North American and European waterways and reduction in acid rain in those areas, you've got the basis for saying human efforts can address global warming, too.

  38. Chris G Silver badge

    Re: People who think humans can't change the climate should study the history of CFC's

    Human efforts 'can' address global warming but allowing for the Chump not believing i n Global warming ( anthropomorphic or otherwise) and consequently disregarding any agreements on limiting CC2 output, your dates may be a little early.

  39. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: People who think humans can't change the climate should study the history of CFC's

    "And watching the recovery from it. "

    Unfortunately the natural recovery from CO2 will likely take a bit longer. On the scale of a few thousand years...

  40. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    Spray radical alkanes up there... Harmless, except for the toxicity and all that.

    Demonstrating why humor on the interwebs is so difficult to pull off.

    That and the fact you know nothing about the chemistry involved.

    Hint. CFC's are non toxic and you need rate{recombination] >> rate[splitting], which it isn't.

    That's what makes this problem so difficult.

  41. phuzz Silver badge

    Sub-Antarctic volcanoes? Ask Kim Stanley Robinson how that'll go down.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ban volcanoes

    they are contributing to "global warming".

  43. samzeman

    Re: ban volcanoes

    I have no way of telling if this is serious or kidding, from the lack of explanation of how to ban them, to the double quotes on global warming

  44. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    Time to start looking for ways to cleanse the atmosphere of sulphur dioxide

    Before those volcanoes start belching and it's too late.

    Yellowstone supervolcano is another risk. We need to have a method to clean our air, just like we need a plan to divert asteroids !

  45. samzeman
    Unhappy

    Re: Time to start looking for ways to cleanse the atmosphere of sulphur dioxide

    Good point, I never thought of that. However it would need the US government to acknowledge that the atmosphere is not invulnerable. Which I don't see happening any time soon.

  46. Faux Science Slayer

    "Volcanic CO2" by Timothy Casey at Geology-1011

    Variable volcanism and solar output controls climate....

    "Earth's Missing Geothermal Flux" at FauxScienceSlayer website

  47. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: "Volcanic CO2" by Timothy Casey at Geology-1011

    "Variable volcanism and solar output controls climate...."

    At times. But not at the moment....Solar output has declined but temperatures are rising.

  48. ukgnome Silver badge

    If Jules Verne has taught us anything

    these so called volcano will be full of dinosaurs

  49. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: If Jules Verne has taught us anything

    "these so called volcano will be full of dinosaurs"

    Thetans surely?

  50. caffeine addict Silver badge

    Bang

    If one of these decided to go all 'splodey, I assume that these have the potential to make a hell of a bang - all that heat melting ice and producing lots of high pressure steam waiting to escape in one go...

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