Why is gravity a hidden phenomenon?
Erosion: Why a hidden mountain range stays young forever
Actually, the Gamburtsev Mountains in Antarctica should no longer exist - at least not in the jagged appearance that can still be seen today on radar images of the massif under the Antarctic ice armor. In fact, the glaciers should have planed the ridges and peaks of the Gamburtsevs over the past 35 million years since the glaciation began. Nevertheless, the mountains still look more like the Alps and not like the hilly Appalachians, which, like the Gamburtsevs, were also formed 250 million years ago and have since been heavily worked by erosion. Now Timothy Creyts of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and his colleagues have come up with an explanation for the phenomenon. "The ice acts like an anti-aging cream. It causes a series of thermodynamic processes that have preserved the Gamburtsev Mountains almost perfectly," says the geoscientist.
The decisive factor was not only that the ice sheet formed relatively quickly at the time, so that frost blasting could hardly work the rock. When snow falls on the glacier surface, it causes the temperatures near the mountain ridges to drop - a process that scientists call "divergent cooling". At the same time, the friction, the high pressure and heat from the earth's interior ensure that the ice at the base of the glacier melts. The resulting water collects in lakes and rivers under the shield. However, the extreme weight of the glaciers ensures that some of them are also pushed uphill on the slopes, where they eventually reach very cold regions and freeze again there. This ice sheet then largely shields the rock from the abrasive glacier movement. The oldest rocks of the Gamburtsevs are about a billion years old; However, the mountains do not date from this time. It only unfolded again when what was then the supercontinent of Gondwana broke up and geotectonic processes started again, which raised the Gamburtsevs anew. Many researchers suspect that one of the key points of the beginning glaciation of the Antarctic was in the mountains. The mechanism that protected the mountains from erosion could also have worked in other regions of the world, according to Creyts - for example in Scandinavia or on the Canadian Labrador Island. There are also jagged rock formations there, although there were huge glaciers during the Ice Age.
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