ESA's geographical space satellite GOCE (ESA, for its acronym in English) revealed the existence of relics of continents under Antarctic ice.
It was five years ago when the satellite came into operation and continues to deliver results, which provides a new vision of the residue in the depths of frozen water.
The results of the research by scientists at the University of Kiel, Germany and British Antarctic Research, recently published in the Scientific Reports, report in detail that the mission monitored gravity gradients, measures how quickly the acceleration of gravity changes.
Thus, the scientific team turned the mosaic of gravity measurements into a third dimension (3D) into "shape pointers" based on the curvature in different regions of the planet, similar to the outlines of a map.
"Satellite gravity data can be combined with seismic data to produce more consistent images of the cortex and the upper mantle in 3D," said lead author Jörg Ebbing.
Also, a professor at the University of Kiel, explained that the combination was critical to understanding the interaction of the tectonic slab and the dynamic of the deep mantle.
According to the ESA, in conjunction with the existing seismological data, gravity scales are highly sensitive to the known features of Earth's 'lithosphere', the solid crust and that part of the molten mantle beneath it.
Among the features featured in the study, there are dense rocky areas or ticks, these are remnants of ancient continents located in the heart of modern continental plates, folded serogenetic areas associated with the mountain ranges and the finest crust of the ocean floor.
The new deep ultrasound window offered by this data provides new information on the structure of all Earth's continents, but mainly Antarctica.
The study reports that with more than 98% of its surface covered by ice with an average thickness of two kilometers, the southern continent remains largely an empty spot in today's geological maps.
"These gravitational images restore our ability to study the continent that does not understand less on Earth, Antarctica," said co-author of the Fausto Ferraccioli study.
The findings show that Western Antarctica has a thinner crust and lithosphere compared to the Eastern Antarctic, consisting of a mosaic of old crotons separated by newer serogroups and similar to Australia and India.
According to ESA, the discovery of geological and historical interest provides evidence of how the continental structure of Antarctica influences the behavior of ice sheets.
It also provides a framework for how the continents were probably linked in the past before being separated due to the movement of the dish, said ESA GOCE mission scientist Roger Haagmans.
NTX / ICB / MSG / ASTRO16