Hot Mantle Plume Under Antarctica Threatens Ice Sheet

Climate change is a scary topic, one that promises a lot of disaster in what many consider the near future. Since the Industrial Age of the world we have continued to spew forth more and more waste material, which we have found to be of huge impact to our environment. However, many do not realize that climate change (or more commonly global warming) is also a natural occurrence. This is further supported by recent events involving the discovery of a hot mantle plume in Antarctica that threatens to melt the surrounding ice sheet.


Researchers at NASA discovered the superheated bed of rock in West Antarctica, where it is melting the ice sheet rapidly. This causes the appearance of lakes and rivers naturally formed under the ice, leading to its inevitable instability. Researcher had apparently believed a mantle plume could lie there for years given the unusually high amount of volcanic activity in the region. So this begs the question, what exactly is a mantle plume? Essentially, they are thought to be formed when hot rock form the Earth’s mantle pushes up to the surface (or crust) forming an area of immensely heated ground. As you can imagine, this is why many scientists could not believe there could possibly be something so hot under all the ice of Antarctica.

Photo Courtesy of Business Insider

These plumes are also known to some as “Super-volcanoes”, which are aptly named for the intense volcanic activity they emit. There is also another super-volcano area that many have likely heard of, Yellowstone National Park. You’ve likely heard what will happen if all that volcanic energy were to erupt, which may give you a little insight into just how much energy is being put out there.

Photo Courtesy of Tech Times

So this begs to call on the issue of whether or not us, as humans, are significantly contributing to climate change or not. While there is still substantial evidence to provide us with an understanding of how we are impacting our immediate environments, it is quite likely we do not have the entire picture in focus. Events like these serve to remind us that the Earth also changes naturally. This global rise in temperature we have been experiencing is not only our fault (although we aren’t doing much to help in this matter), it can also be attributed to the natural occurrences on our planet. While we should still look to help our planet out as much as possible and cut down on waste, we also need to be reminded that no matter what we do here there will be things that happen that are out of our control.

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