A researcher along with five others from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography have found out the epicenter of an active volcano beneath the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. This discovery along with other experiments have been very much crucial to understanding the fact regarding the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The Pine Island Glacier which is a part is now being published in the newspaper named as “Evidence of an active volcanic heat source beneath the Pine Island Glacier” in the updated edition of the Nature Communication.

According to Assistant Professor, Brice Loose who is associated with Newport and also a chemical oceanographer at GSO has said that the finding is purely based on research which was done during an expedition in 2014 to Antarctica. Scientists belonging to the United Kingdom led such a journey. The scientists worked aboard an icebreaker known as the RRS James Clark Ross from January to March during Antarctica’s summer days.

Loose further said that their primary objective was to understand in a proper the role of the ocean in melting the ice shelf. He also added that it was his primary objective to examine the water to find five noble gases. The main reason he was trying to find the noble gases, including helium and xenon, was to study the phenomena of the ice melt as well as the heat transport. Helium-3 is one of those gases which indicate the traces of volcanism and it such a gas which can be found out by adopting this particular phenomenon.

He said that the team was not searching for volcanism, but they were utilizing these gases to track other actions. Loose told that when they first saw the high concentration of helium-3, they considered it to be a cluster of inappropriate data. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is positioned on the top of a significant volcanic rift system. However, there has been no trace of current magmatic activity. Last time such event took place was 2200 years ago. It was also found out that although volcanic heat could be traced to dormant volcanoes, the discovery at the Pine Island was utterly new.

In the paper that was published Loose said that it becomes difficult to measure heat flow to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet due to the presence of volcanic rift system. This is mainly because such rift system is present far below the ice sheets.