Which bird is associated with Antarctica

Geology: "Lost" continents tracked down in Antarctica

Huge landscapes are hidden under the ice of the Antarctic - such as gigantic valleys or hidden mountains that hardly show any signs of aging. In view of the ice masses at the South Pole, these formations can hardly be detected, let alone properly investigated. And that is why geologists have so far known relatively little about the complex plate tectonic structure of the southern continent. Thanks to ESA's GOCE satellite, which is no longer active, the scientists can use the local fluctuations in the earth's gravitational field to determine what the subsurface looks like. In the process, they came across the remains of long-forgotten continents, as Jörg Ebbing from the University of Kiel and his colleagues write in "Scientific Reports".

The study enables a view of the continental crust of the uppermost mantle of the earth, which was previously not possible with global seismic models alone, explain Ebbing and Co in a communication. With the help of GOCE data and seismological analyzes, they were able to develop a three-dimensional image of global plate tectonics - even under the Antarctic, from which otherwise hardly any evaluations are available. "In East Antarctica we see an exciting mosaic of geological formations that reveal fundamental similarities and differences between the Antarctic crust and other continents with which it was connected 160 million years ago," said Fausto Ferraccioli from the British Antarctic Survey, who was involved in the work .

This article is contained in Spectrum Compact, Plate Tectonics - On the rise and fall of the continents

West Antarctica also has a significantly thinner crust than East Antarctica. The smaller western part of the continent consists mainly of mountainous folded plate fragments and very old cratons, which originally formed the first central components of the continents and are now embedded in larger land masses. These areas are similar to regions in India and Australia that Antarctica was once connected to in the supercontinent of Gondwana before it began to break 130 million years ago. Australia and the Antarctic only finally broke away from each other 55 million years ago.