Sci Station Canada

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Queen's University's part in underwater volcano discovery

Sometimes one door will open when another closes. A US National Science Foundation expedition to investigate why the massive Larsen B ice sheet collapsed and broke up several years ago has made an unexpected discovery.

Queen’s geographer Robert Gilbert, the only Canadian researcher on this project led by Eugene Domack from Hamilton College in New York State, says that severe sea ice conditions prevented reaching the primary sites at Larsen Ice Shelf, so the researchers diverted to the sea mount where conditions were more favourable, to assess whether an anomaly recorded on the sea floor during a 2001 expedition was indeed a volcano.

...The volcano, which has yet to be named, is unusual in that it exists on the continental shelf, in the vicinity of a deep trough carved out by glaciers passing across the seafloor. Dr. Gilbert ... says the volcano may partially or completely post-date the last glaciation making it a relatively recent phenomenon, perhaps less than several tens of thousands of years old.


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