Thongchai Thailand

About Antarctica

Posted on: June 27, 2019







  1. Antarctica is broken into two pieces. On the west is West Antarctica that constitutes 20% of Antarctica. The upper portion of West Antarctica forms a thumb. It’s called the Antarctic Peninsula. The remaining 80% of Antarctica is called East Antarctica. The image below shows a NASA graph that reflects ice melting on the entire continent from 1995 to 2015. It is here shown as a proxy for ice melting denominated as millimeters of sea level rise due to meltwater. Note that West Antarctica, inclusive of the Antarctic Peninsula, the 20% portion of the continent, accounts for all of the continent’s ice loss. East Antarctica, the much larger 80%, is actually gaining ice. This melt graph was created in 2015 by Dr. H. Jay Zwally is Chief Cryospheric Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Project Scientist for the Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellitezwally2
  2. zwally
  3. The lopsided melt data raises this question: why is all the melt concentrated in 20% of the continent while the other 80% gains ice? The answer is found in the University of Washington 50-year average surface temperature map. It was generated in 2009 by Dr. Eric Steig – Earth and Space Sciences – University of Washington. It’s validity was hotly debated for many years. However, since that time, it has been proven correct by two more modern studies. NASA’s skin temperature map and British Antarctic Survey’s temperature map.
  4. The surface temperature map that Dr. Steig made represents the temperature of the upper few meters of ice and sediment and does not reflect the temperature of the atmosphere. Therefore, the temperature we see reflects the heat emitted from the Antarctic continent. This map was very controversial when it was first published mostly because it did not show a uniform temperature profile expected from uniform heat flow across the whole continent. Instead it showed a sharply defined red hot area in West Antarctica with a very sharp transition to the moderately warming or not warming East Antarctica.
  5. The question is why is there a sharply defined warming area in Antarctica? This is the answer. This map shows in black hatched lines the largest geological feature in Antarctica. It is the 4,000-mile-long and 700-mile wide feature called the West Antarctic Rift. This feature is actually in the process of ripping the entire Antarctic continent apart. It is home to 149 land volcanoes, some sub-sea volcanoes, and a 620,000 square-mile hotspot. We will now zoom in on four selected areas along this giant rift for a closer look at heat flows. kamis03
  6. In the image below, the left frame shows the northwest extension of the West Antarctic Rift and its major fault traces in red as the fault traces continue into the ocean. Also on here are some yellow circles. Those are active volcanoes with some of them recently erupting. The larger the circle the more active the volcano. So first we’ll talk about the South Georgia Island seen in the upper right slide where you can see that in September 29, 2016 three volcanoes erupted simultaneously indicating that this is a very active portion of the rift. On the lower right slide is the May 1 2016 eruption of Mt Curry which is located in the South Sandwich Islands. This eruption emitted tremendous amounts of volcanic ash onto the surrounding glacial areas of ice that disrupted penguin migration. But the penguins adapted. They didn’t die, and I think this is kind of an interesting aspect of this eruption. kamis04The Galapagos Islands are volcanic and Charles Darwin did his research there. He discovered that the geological eruptions and changes on these islands had a strong influence on the extinction or the preservation of specific species there. Based on this he developed his theory of natural selection. That’s kind of what’s happening in this segment of the Antarctic Rift.
  7. The South Shetland Island. The image below shows the South Shetland Island portion of the Rift. Again, you can see the long linear string of volcanoes where there is six of them, one very large, it’s called the South Shetland Island specifically. This area contains one of the most active volcanoes in all of Antarctica. It’s called the Deception Island Collapse Caldera. A collapse caldera is a huge volcano that erupts so violently that the center of it collapses. It is often filled with fresh water but in this case because it is so close to the ocean, this huge hole is filled with sea water. Here there’s a little opening in this large caldera so that eco tourists can come in and visit it. On the right slide is the interior of the collapse caldera where the tourists are soaking in steaming hot water on black volcanic sand. The reason for the steaming hot water is that this caldera is still active. It is one of the first stops in visits to Antarctica.  kamis05
  8. The West Antarctic Rift (WAR) is shown in the image below: It consists of a number of rift valleys between East and West Antarctica. A rift valley is a long narrow deep and steep valley. The WAR includes part of Byrd area of West Antarctica. The Byrd area is the main portion of the WAR. It is studied in terms of its three geologically interesting regions. These are the Hudson Mountains & Mount Takahe volcanic regions and the Pine Island Glacial Valley. kamis-byrd area
  9. Hudson Mountains: Research by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS 2008) shows that this region suffered a a massive sub-glacial volcanic eruption way back in time of Jesus Christ (2.2KYBP) and caused this glacial area to become covered with volcanic ash which eventually became sandwiched under a subsequent layer of glacial ice. From the thickness of the sandwiched volcanic ash section, the BAS determined that this must have been the largest Antarctic volcanic eruption in the Holocene.
  10. Mount Takahe: The two red circles in the graphic marks the location of two huge volcanoes that emerged through the ice. BAS research shows that Mt Takahe erupted continuously in a 200-year volcanic orgasm about 17.7KYBP, toward the end of the last glaciation. A graphical representation of the last glaciation appears in a related post [LINK] . According to research by the DRI, these eruptions altered the ocean currents and the climate of the Southern Hemisphere extending from the South Pole to the Tropics (Nevada DRI, 2013, [LINK] ); but these considerations are not found in the popular versions of climate science.
  11. The Pine Island Glacier: This is a long narrow glacier adjacent to the Hudson Mountains volcanic region. It is a creation of the main fault that runs through the WAR. For many years, the Pine Island Glacier has been for a long time held up as a victim of AGW and it served as a vivid case study in the public eye of the concern that man made climate change was melting glaciers [LINK] . But it was more than that. It was used by climate science in research papers and in news media presentations both as proof of AGW and also as a vivid visual rationale for climate action to prevent catastrophic sea level rise and for the longer term, to save the planet from the effects of AGW.
  12. However, in 2018, researchers at the National Science Foundation (NSF) made a surprising discovery that jolted the climate science community. They found an active volcano beneath the Pine Island Glacier that was erupting. It then became evident that the glacial melt that had been attributed to AGW and held up as a climate change poster child to the point of proving AGW, was actually the creation of an erupting sub-glacial volcano.
  13. On the right side of the map above, is the Pine Island Glacier catchment basin outlined in blue. The red and purple circles are locations of volcanoes that have been identified under the glacier. Note also the location of the catchment basin of the Thwaites Glacier with red circles identifying active volcanoes underneath the glacier.
  14. It has been repeatedly reported in the media and also claimed in scientific peer reviewed papers that they have discovered a huge air cavity beneath the ice and above the bedrock surface in the Thwaites Glacier that is evidence of the impact of AGW on the Thwaites Glacier. However, since we know that there is an erupting volcano beneath Pine Island Glacier, it is reasonable to conclude that the cavity found by scientists was created by an eruption of one of the 40 volcanoes known to exist underneath the Thwaites Glacier.
  15. The Marie Byrd Mantle Plume Hotspot is outlined in red in the image below. A mantle plume hotspot is a large area of magma that comes up from the mantle of the inner earth, goes up through layers of rock until obstructed when it spreads out into a mushroom shape over a widespread area. If it is under a sufficient pressure, the magma can break through to the atmosphere as a volcanic eruption. The shaded red areas on the map are graphical representations of NASA ice melt data from 1992-2019. Red shaded areas identify locations of melting and the darker the red color, the more intense the melting. These red areas are found close to the edge of the Marie Byrd Mantle Plume. These data suggest that the mantle plume is the cause of the observed ice melt.  marie-byrd-mantle-plume
  16. An oddity about the Marie Byrd Mantle Plume area is that a rise in elevation has been recorded over a multi-decadal time scale. These data indicate that the bedrock is being pushed up by the underlying magma and that in turn is causing the whole of this glacial area to rise. This effect is a typical feature of active mantle plumes and therefore the elevation rise data provide further evidence of a mantle plume beneath. An alternate explanation for the rise in elevation is “glacial rebound”. Glacial rebound is the idea that when ice melts and meltwater runs off it reduces the pressure on the underlying structure and causes it to rise. However, in this case, the uplift is too large to be explained entirely in terms of glacial rebound.
  17. The Mount Erebus Volcanic Complex: On the right side of the image above are shown the Pluton Rich Hotspot and the Mount Erebus Volcanic Complex. The image below shows volcanic eruptions in the Mount Erebus Volcanic Complex. Mount Erebus is part of a large and very active volcanic platform 240km x 440km, more than 100,000 square km in area. Mt Erebus itself is a 3,790 meter high StratoVolcano. A strato-volcano is a conical volcano consisting of multiple alternating layers of lava and ash. It has been going through multiple mild eruptions over a long period of time and is currently active. Research by the University of Indiana shows that the magma chamber below fueling these eruptions is migrating upwards, and has moved from deep below the earth to near the summit of Mt Erebus. This rise reflects the magnitude of the pressure below and that the Mount Erebus Volcanic Complex is a very active volcanic are. The right frame of the image below shows the location of the Mount Erebus in a larger geographical area in the context of the two other volcanoes in the region. The black vertical line on the right is the major eastern fault of the Antarctic Rift. Also in this image we see large chunks of ice breaking up in the water of the bay. Near the bottom of the image is the Nansen Glacier that has been rapidly retreating. In the AGW literature of climate science and in the media, this rapid glacial retreat has been attributed to AGW with the complimentary claim that climate action will slow and halt this retreat and its sea level rise consequences. Yet, considering the location of this glacier on an active fault and and in an active volcanic area, the atmospheric cause seems far fetched and highly unlikely particularly so because of the highly localized and non uniform distribution of these melt events. The known distribution of geothermal heat provides a more rational explanation for the observed retreat of the Nansen Glacier. kamis-erebus
  18. Kerguelen Plateau Seamounts, Hydrothermal Vents, Spreading Center Rift (image below):  The Kerguelen Plateau is an offshore volcanic platform in East Antarctica. It is one of the largest igneous provinces in the world. A large  igneous province (LIP) is a gigantic collection of igneous rocks brought up to the surface by magma flows from the mantle. The Kerguelen ocean-floor plateau along with its few islands cover more than 1.2 million square kilometers and rise more than 2,000 meters above the ocean basin. Also on this plateau are volcanic islands, ocean floor volcanoes, and hundreds of ocean floor hydrothermal vents.  A 2016 study of the Kerguelen Plateau by the Australian Antarctic Division concluded that this area is very geologically active. They found iron enrichment of sea water and attributed that to emissions from the thousands of hydrothermal vents beneath. They also concluded that animal migration patterns that had been attributed to AGW by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are better explained in terms of volcanic activity. The BAS research on animal migrations was initiated by reports from fishermen that marine animal migration patterns had changed dramatically and affected their fishing. They reported that sea lions and other animals were moving to areas where they had never before been seen. The BAS interpreted these data from fishermen as evidence of a possible man made ecological disaster caused by climate change. But when their research got underway and they got to the Kerguelen Plateau they saw that a volcano on one of the volcanic islands was actively erupting. They launched a self guided mini-submarine to take data near the erupting volcano. The sub found hundreds of active hydrothermal vents emitting iron-rich fluids. These data eventually forced them to change their original AGW theory for the animal migrations to include heat flows from terrestrial and ocean floor volcanoes and hydrothermal vents. kamis-kerguelen
  19. The 2017 Weddell Sea Ice Melt Hole:  In 2017, a melt hole appeared very suddenly in an offshore area on the North side of East Antarctica. The melt hole can be seen as a blue spot on the left frame of the image below. The right frame, the sea ice area is shown with white hashed markers. The media became energized by this discovery and reported that “A MYSTERIOUS HOLE as big as the state of Maine has been spotted in Antarctica’s winter sea ice cover”. The location of the melt hole is indicated with a white ellipsoidal marker in the right frame of the image below. The melt hole was attributed to changes in ocean currents and ocean heat content and thereby ascribed to AGW without consideration of geological factors. Outlined in red in the same area as the melt hole is the location of a volcanic platform called the Maude Volcanic Platform. It is an active but sporadic source of heat flow. There was a pulse of heat flow in 1976 and another in 2017 with both pulses creating melt holes. These known and verified heat pulses explain the melt hole formations in these two years without the need for elaborate assumptions about changes in ocean currents and ocean heat content.          kamis-weddel
  20. The Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire:  The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe shaped region in the Pacific Ocean that is the most active geological area on earth. As can be seen in the image below, the Ring of Fire extends down to Antarctica. The volcanic discussed above lie along the Pacific Ring of Fire. In fact, the West Antarctic Rift, discussed above, is shown in a red hashed area in the Ring of Fire image below. The density of active volcanoes in the West Antarctic Rift is the same as then in the Ring of Fire.                                                                                                          kamis-ringoffire
  21. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION: Antarctica is geologically active. It is not an inert platform that holds ice but a chemically and thermally charged system. Heat flow and fluid flows from its geological features actively alter temperature and chemistry of the ocean, and cause melting of glacial ice. It is not possible to interpret Antarctica’s ice melt dynamics purely in terms atmospheric phenomena specifically with respect to the AGW mechanism having to do with changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration. 




  1. Powerful and significant climate effect of geological forces has been greatly underestimated and under-appreciated and has remained hidden for several reasons. The first reason is remoteness. About 71% of earth is covered by oceans with an average depth of 14,000 feet. The ocean is home to most of the big fault boundaries that border continents and ocean segments. They are known as plate boundaries. Another 11% of earth is covered by polar ice caps. Therefore, 82% of the earth’s surface is remote. Much of it is glacial ice as much as five thousand feet high. Some areas of the ocean there is covered with very thick sea ice. These areas are very remote. Not just oceans but the polar ice caps also contain some very large fault systems beneath them. The second reason, after remoteness, that geological features haven’t been appreciated is lack of monitoring. These remote areas do not have systems that record on a regular basis, temperature, carbon dioxide, methane, iron, mercury, etc, nor emissions from these geological features. As a result, there is very little known about them.
  2. The last reason is an atmosphere bias.  The term “atmospheric bias” refers to the fact that scientists look at the various atmospheric datasets that are readily available to them, and they do find correlations between atmospheric parameters and climate patterns and climate events. But correlations don’t always represent a causal relationship because correlations exist among multiple effects of the same driving force. The atmospheric bias, that can be described in general terms as a “data availability bias”, has acted to hide the important influence of geological features.
  3. Increased tectonic activity, either locally or globally, equates to more heat and chemically charged heat in fluids released from active geological features into oceans, sub-glacial polar regions, and into the atmosphere. This altered heat and fluid input has in the past, and still to this day, acts to affect earth’s climate and climate related events. There are many connections between geology and climate.
  4. Antarctica is still under intense evaluation and research. This presentation is the best information available to be at this time but not claimed to be absolute truth that cannot be questioned. It is very convincing but not claimed to be absolute truth and therefore subject to change as new data become available. There are still things to be discovered about the geology of Antarctica and about Antarctica in general. Antarctica is very large.


8 Responses to "About Antarctica"


As a New Zealander who follows the work of our Antarctic Survey Teams etc. I love to read research like this . Thanks from Brett Keane

This is an excellent article, I wish it could be shared with the world.

This is a very interesting site with standards of editing and documentation that exceed many periodicals that were once known to set the bar. Given the apparent Thai connection I would like to ask whether you have any views on an apparent recent instability in temp/precip records in the Mekong basin which show up as a very large increase in variance of the Palmer drought index, and also in some current temp/precip records (including this year) I have been accessing in Southern Laos. I’d be happy to correspond a bit on this as it has some important implications. Thanks for your long and consistent effort in doing this work. Dick Meehan

Thank you for your kind comment. My husband chaamjamal did some work with the palmer drought index. I will ask him to respond when he is home.

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