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Gamburtsev Mountain Range
Subglacial topography and bathymetry of bedrock underlying Antarctica ice sheet
Region East Antarctica
Highest point
 - elevation 3,400 m (11,155 ft)
 - coordinates 80°30′00″S 76°00′00″E / 80.5°S 76°E / -80.5; 76
Length 1,200 km (746 mi)

The Gamburtsev Mountain Range (also known as the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains) is a subglacial mountain range located in Eastern Antarctica, near Dome A.[1] The range was discovered by the 3rd Soviet Antarctic Expedition in 1958 and is named for Soviet geophysicist Grigoriy A. Gamburtsev.[2][3] It is approximately 1,200 kilometers (750 mi) long, and the mountains are believed to be about 2,700 meters (8,900 ft) high,[4] although they are completely covered by over 600 meters (2,000 ft) of ice and snow. The Gamburtsev Mountain Range is currently believed to be about the same size as the European Alps,[5 ] and, as of 2008, it is unknown how the mountains were formed, though the current speculated age of the range is over 34 million years[6] and possibly 500 million years.[4] Current models suggest that the East Antarctic ice sheet was formed from the glaciers that began sliding down the Gamburtsev range at the end of the Eocene.[1]


Antarctica's Gamburtsev Province (AGAP) project

As part of the 2007-09 International Polar Year, so called, the AGAP project was a multinational effort to gather information about the Gamburtsev mountain chain.[7][8]



Scientists announced the completion of their mission on 25 February 2009.[5 ] Modern-day remote-sensing technology revealed a very jagged landscape.[5 ] The gathered data will be analysed by researchers in the following months.[5 ] Dr Fausto Ferraccioli from the British Antarctic Survey said: "We can confirm they are there; we've seen them under the ice. Not only are they similar in dimension to the European Alps, but they are also similar in aspect: we see very sharp peaks and valleys which are remarkably similar to the Alps themselves. It all adds to the mystery – from the tectonic perspective of how these mountains were created; and from the glacial history perspective of how the East Antarctic ice sheet was formed and didn't erode these peaks."[5 ]

The AGAP project comprised scientists, engineers, pilots and support staff from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[5 ] [9] Two field camps were established deep within the Antarctic interior and aircraft flew across the ice, mapping the shape of the sub-glacials using an ice-penetrating radar.[5 ] The local gravitational and magnetic fields were also measured.[5 ] 120,000 km were flown, with over 20% of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet being explored during the course of the mission.[5 ]

Information was recorded on a network of seismometers that picked up earthquake signals passing through the rock from the opposite side of the planet.[5 ] Despite the extreme temperatures – around -30 °C at the two base camps – liquid water was detected in the valleys three kilometres beneath the team.[5 ] Ferraccioli added: "Up until now we just had an ambitious plan. Now we have all this remarkable data to pore over."[5 ]

By December, 2009, data analyzed so far from the AGAP project indicate the mountain range is generally oriented southwest to northeast, and arose from tectonic plate activity.[10]

More information

More information about the project:


  1. ^ a b Jonathan Amos (2006-12-13). "Survey targets 'ghost' mountains". BBC. Retrieved 2006-12-15.  
  2. ^ Australian Antarctic Data Centre (2000-01-01). "Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains". Australian Government, Antarctic Division. Retrieved 2006-12-15.  
  3. ^ "20 лет открытию Полюса недоступности Антарктиды: Метеорология и Гидрология. 1979, №3. Гидрометеоиздат." (in Russian). Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. Retrieved 2007-01-26.  
  4. ^ a b Robin E Bell (2008-11-12). "Dispatches from the Bottom of the Earth: An Antarctic Expedition in Search of Large Mountains Encased in Ice". Scientific American. Retrieved 2008-11-12.  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "'Ghost peaks' emerge from the ice". BBC. 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-02-25.  
  6. ^ The Gamburtsev mountains and the origin and early evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, Sun Bo, Martin J. Siegert, Simon M. Mudd, David Sugden, Shuji Fujita, Cui Xiangbin, Jiang Yunyun, Tang Xueyuan & Li Yuansheng; Nature magazine 459, 690-693 (2009-06-04), accessed 2009-06-09
  7. ^ Bryan C. Storey (2006-03-23). "The Gamburtsev Mountains: Integrated International Exploration of the Earths Most Enigmatic Mountain Range". International Polar Year.  
  8. ^ Jonathan Amos (2008-10-14). "Expedition set for 'ghost peaks'". BBC News.  
  9. ^ National Science Foundation (24 February 2009). "U.S.-led, International Research Team Confirms Alps-like Mountain Range Exists under East Antarctic Ice Sheet". Press release. Retrieved 11 Jan 2010.  
  10. ^ Jonathan Amos (2009-12-18). "Data to expose 'ghost mountains'". BBC. Retrieved 2009-12-18.  

External links


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