A team of German and British scientists has identified the remnants of long-lost continents beneath the ice of Antarctica. In 2018, the researchers used data from the gravity-mapping GOCE satellite and seismological data to create 3D images of Earth’s plate tectonics in hard-to-reach areas covered with glaciers.
It turns out that West Antarctica has a thinner crust and lithosphere compared to East Antarctica, which includes ancient rocky zones with the remnants of continents that have been pressed deep into the modern plates.
Cratons, which are the oldest parts of Earth’s lithosphere, are particularly interesting as they can help scientists peek into the early history of the Earth. The study has also revealed fundamental similarities and differences between the crust beneath Antarctica and other continents it was joined to until 160 million years ago.