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Relationship between Subglacial Volcanism and Climate

  1. Feb 5, 2019 #1
    I have been thinking about the possibility of subglacial volcanism having a potential large impact on glacial ice mass, melting and climate in the past. Since there are volcanos all over the world, I thought there likely are plenty of subglacial volcanoes as well, but I find it hard to find much information on the topic, although I've read these recent publication,

    Evidence of an active volcanic heat source beneath the Pine Island Glacier

    A new volcanic province: an inventory of subglacial volcanoes in West Antarctica

    which present evidence of active volcanism under West Antarctica.

    One of the authors of the second paper, Robert Bingham said,
    “Theory suggests that this is occurring because, without ice sheets on top of them, there is a release of pressure on the regions’ volcanoes and they become more active.”

    Finally, my questions are: How much do we actually know about the volcanic history of Earths north and south poles? It seem that we have a lot of theories about how volcanism, asteroids, comets, and other factors have impacted global climate over geologic time scales, but how reliable are they? Is it possible that past super volcano or location of an asteroid impact is hiding under glacial ice for example? And, to what extent do we expect it to be possible for subglacial volcanism to affect current ice melt in the best to worse cases?
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2019 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes to major features that have been hidden by ice:
    Very large crater that resulted from an impact, possibly the cause of the Younger Dryas cooling (climate change) circa 15000ya.

    New ice penetrating radar has been brought to bear on Greenland, Antarctica re: the problem of hidden volcanic features and craters.

    Answering your question as things stand now, would be mostly speculation on my part. PF is not the best place for that. We are very good for dealing with science as presented in academic journals and textbooks.

    As a generalized statement -
    The 'how much do we know' questions are really hard. As an unrelated example: There are thousands of research articles on Alzheimer's disease. Some researchers view this as 'we are making good progress' others view it as 'we need to learn a lot more'. Both are valid points of view.

    www.phys.org has lots of correctly popularized science reports and links to original research. Consider some reading there.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-01-huge-cavity-antarctic-glacier-rapid.html Something just found with new ice radar technology - really enormous hollow in the the Thwaite Glacier in Antarctica
  4. Feb 5, 2019 #3
    For the effects of sub-glacial eruptions on the region and the climate, Iceland is probably a good place to start.

    May I suggest you browse some of the articles at...

    IMHO, their NDVP list of top-10 (In their opinion) most dangerous volcanoes is also worth careful consideration...
  5. Feb 6, 2019 #4
    The reverse, glacial melt triggering subglacial volcanism, could be true as well:
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