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Earth's squishy interior gives rapid rise to Antarctica

22 Jun 2018

Parts of Earth's crust are rising very slowly owing to post-glacial rebound, but using GPS, researchers have found that West Antarctica is rising faster than almost anywhere else in the world. And, ESA's GOCE gravity mission has, in turn, helped them to understand that the mantle below is unusually fluid.

Around 20,000 years ago, vast expanses of Earth's surface were covered in thick ice. In some places the ice was 3 km thick – just like central Antarctica and Greenland today.

Earth's hard rocky crust sits on top of the mantle. The mantle layer, which is some 2,900 km-thick, is relatively soft and behaves like a viscous fluid that allows the crust, when weight-laden with thick ice, to be pushed down.

It is estimated that during the Ice Age, land below the thickest ice sunk by as much as 500 m.

Planetary Visions (credit: ESA/Planetary Visions)


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