West Antarctic Glacial Melting From Deep Earth Geological Heat Flow Not Global Warming

A few of West Antarctica’s glaciers that lie directly above the 5,000-mile long, world class, heat-emitting West Antarctic Fault / Rift System are bottom melting from deep earth geologically induced high geothermal heat flow and heated fluid flow, not manmade atmospheric global warming.

Figure 1. Recently released and widely publicized NASA high altitude photo of West Antarctic area where three glaciers are bottom melting at an accelerated rate. A proxy for high melting rate, high glacial velocity, is shown as red shading and black arrows (photo credit NASA Earth Observatory).

The media and prominent entities studying Antarctica’s glaciers, most notably the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), see things quite differently.

They believe that the increased basal melting of these West Antarctic glaciers is from manmade atmospheric global warming. According to NASA, manmade CO2 emissions have acted to greatly warm Earth’s atmosphere thereby heating West Antarctica’s surrounding ocean waters. This heated ocean water then acts to bottom melt portions of several West Antarctic glaciers, specifically portions of these glaciers that ride atop of this warmed water. There are numerous and very serious problems with this explanation:

  1. Overall ice mass and extent of Antarctica has increased for 35 years. This strongly implies that Earth’s supposedly anomalously warmed atmosphere is not having any noticeable or direct effect on this continent’s glaciers.
  2. Other nearby West Antarctic glaciers are growing, not melting / diminishing (see here). This is an extremely telling piece of information because many of the nearby glaciers also ride atop the surrounding Antarctic ocean water. Why aren’t they melting? Clearly some other non-atmospheric or non-ocean warming natural force is at play in the West Antarctic area.
  3. A few West Antarctic glaciers that are not riding on top of ocean water are also bottom melting. This again indicates that some other non-atmospheric or non-ocean warming natural force is at play in localized regions of West Antarctica.
  4. Lastly and most importantly, the role that geologically induced deep earth heat flow and chemically charged heated fluid flow likely play in bottom melting the three studied West Antarctic glaciers (Pope, Smith, Kohler) is not considered or even mentioned by those performing the research.

This article will show the role geologically deep earth heat flow and chemically charged heated fluid flow plays in bottom melting selected West Antarctic glaciers with a special focus on the Pope, Smith, and Kohler Glaciers.

Let’s begin by reviewing Figure 1. This one image, minus the “Volcano” designation, has been featured front and center in an avalanche of media and NASA articles stating that several West Antarctic Glaciers are melting at “alarming and unprecedented rates.” By taking a closer look at this image we can observe something quite interesting. There is what appears to be a very large flat-top high mountain located just east of the bottom melting glaciers. A more precise understanding of this “feature” can be obtained by zooming in, and then comparing the zoomed image to a currently erupting West Antarctic volcano, Mount Erebus (Figure 2). The two images are strikingly similar. Clearly, the “feature” which is only 35 miles east of the bottom melting glaciers is a volcano, no question.

Figure 2.) Blow-up of the obvious volcano 35 miles east of bottom melting West Antarctic Glaciers, and a comparison photo of West Antarctica’s actively erupting and heat flowing Mount Erebus volcano (Mount Erebus Becomes Active).

Next let’s correct a few misconceptions about how volcanoes work; specifically, they are not just classified as either erupting (spewing ash into the atmosphere) or extinct (completely dead with no activity). There is a third classification termed dormant, in the vernacular this means semi-active. These semi-active volcanoes, including those located beneath glaciers, are known to commonly pulse heat and chemically charged hot fluids in rock layers surrounding the volcano. This heat can extend out 50 miles (see here Iceland Volcano and here Sub-Glacial Eruptions).

Before you write this off as esoteric geological nonsense, you may want to know that this exact heat and hot fluid pulsing is currently occurring beneath many of the glaciers located in the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System. Proof positive comes from the existence of a giant completely interconnected liquid fresh water stream and lake complex that exists under a huge portion of West Antarctica (see here).

This is a giant water drainage system that is similar to ones on dry land continents, except it is located under thousands of glacial ice and driven / generated by high geothermal heat flow. Wells drilled through the 7,000 feet of overlying glacial ice and into this system have found; liquid flowing water at high temperatures, unusual biota associated with hot springs, unusual chemicals in the water that may be associated with hot springs, and fault zones.

Figure 3 shows a cross cut of Lake Vostok, a subglacial lake drilled and researched by numerous scientific groups. Importantly note that the glacial bottom melting effect of the one Lake Vostok mini-volcano labeled “geothermal activity” spreads out laterally 26 miles. The main takeaway from this part of the article is that the volcanic feature east of the Pope, Smith, and Kohler West Antarctic Glaciers may, in fact, be the cause of bottom melting by the process of laterally pulsing heat or heated fluid laterally and onto the base of these ice masses. This is a proven and common process of semi-active volcanoes.

Figure 3.) Russian scientists were the first to drill into a geologically (geothermal) heated sub-glacial lake or stream, specifically Lake Vostok (see here)

There is an absolutely staggering amount of geological information that proves the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System is actively emitting heat and heated fluid onto the base of selected overlying West Antarctic glaciers. First, there are 61 active or semi-active volcanoes along the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System, including the “feature” volcano (Figure 4).

Three of these volcanoes located along the northern end of the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System are currently erupting (see here), and one these volcanoes located on the southern end of the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System is also currently erupting (see here).

Numerous research studies, most notably one by the University of Texas, show that there is deep earth high geothermal heat flow in West Antarctica associated with a segment of the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System (see here). In fact, this particular documented high heat flow area which is proven to be the cause of bottom melting of the Thwaites Glacier is a mere 100 miles north of the Pope, Smith, and Kohler Glaciers! Oh and also…the Thwaites Glacier is adjacent to a flat-top high mountain, Mount Takahe, which is 60 miles west of the Thwaites Glacier. Interesting.

Figure 4.) Map of the “active” (currently erupting) or “dormant” (semi-active) Antarctic Continent volcanoes, 61 of 62 are located along the branching West Antarctic Fault / Rift System. This active fault zone is tearing the continent apart and allowing deep hot magma to flow up the faults feeding the volcanoes.

In summary and to put it mildly, the media and NOAA neglected to mention a few things in their hasty pronouncements of what has caused “alarming and unprecedented rates” of bottom melting at the Pope, Smith, and Kohler Glaciers of West Antarctica. By including just one of those things, the relevant and obvious geological information as briefly reviewed in this article, it becomes very clear that our understanding of what drives polar ice thickness variations is far from complete.

As a result and in a broader sense this article shows that the science of climate is far from settled. Clearly, it’s time to re-open the climate discussion to all scientists, not just those favoring the Theory of Global Warming.

James Edward Kamis is a Geologist and AAPG member of 43 years with a B.S. and M.S. in geology who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. More than 11 years of research / observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate. The Plate Climatology Theory (plateclimatology.com) was recently presented at the annual 2016 American Metrological Society Conference in New Orleans, LA. (see here)


http://climatechangedispatch.com/researchers-discover-volcanic-activity-is-changing-antarctica-s-geology/  Antarctic Volcanic Activity

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-25/west-antarctica-begins-to-destabilize-with-intense-unbalanced-melting Example of Numerous “Alarmist” Articles That Do Not Mention Geological Information Concerning Bottom melting of a Few West Antarctic Glaciers


http://gizmodo.com/the-west-antarctic-ice-sheet-is-wasting-away-fast-1788182749 Example of Numerous “Alarmist” Articles That Do Not Mention Geological Information Concerning Bottom melting of a Few West Antarctic Glaciers


http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/25/499206005/antarcticas-ice-sheets-are-melting-faster-and-from-beneath The Bottom of a Few West Antarctic Glaciers are Melting

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-08/researchers-probe-life-in-antarctic-ocean-and-volcanoes-link/7075324 Sub-Ocean Antarctic Volcanoes and Phytoplankton

http://bangordailynews.com/community/lecture-volcanoes-iron-and-phytoplankton-in-the-antarctic/ Sub-Ocean Antarctic Volcanoes Infuse Antarctic Ocean Waters Iron Which Aids Phytoplankton Blooms

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-35467131 Dry Land Antarctic Volcano erupts 2/2016

http://www.plateclimatology.com/antarctic-volcano-mount-erebus-wakes-up/ Volcanic Activity Supplies “Natural” Mercury to Antarctic Glaciers…

http://climatechangedispatch.com/volcanic-activity-supplies-natural-mercury-to-antarctic-glaciers-not-humans/ Heated and Chemically(Mercury) Charged Fluid Flow Infuses West Antarctic Glaciers

https://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=189959 Volcanic Eruptions and Heat Flow Beneath Glaciers is Common

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160808-the-volcanoes-hiding-in-the-ocean Deep Ocean Volcanic Eruptions Along Major Rifts are Common

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    Bryan - oz4caster


    James, nice work and seems very plausible to me. One further point is that Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) Antarctic zone (60S-90S) temperature estimates show an overall downward trend since 1979 as can be seen in the graph below. I update this graph monthly, along with several others here:

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      1979? What about the satellite data that predates it? This was included in the first IPCC Report. http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_I/ipcc_far_wg_I_full_report.pdf

      As you can see, the Arctic Sea Ice extent was far lower in 1974 than present day.

      “Arctic ice propaganda at NSIDC depends on graphs like the one below, which cleverly start at peak ice in 1979, and create the deceptive appearance of a linear decrease in ice – intended to fool the reader into believing it is due to CO2 emissions. But they are hiding the Nimbus 5 microwave satellite data, which goes back to 1972 and was included in the 1990 IPCC report. The Nimbus 5 data completely wrecks their story, because it shows that ice in 1974 was no more extensive than it is today, and that NSIDC cherry-picked 1979 as their start date.”
      Here you can see how detailed this data was, and why starting the graph in 1979 is so misleading.

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        Bryan - oz4caster


        AMIRLACH, 1979 is as far back as the CFSR data go. This post is about the Antarctic, not the Arctic.

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          So now you have data going back to the start of the satellite record, or are you only interested in the data that started at the peak cooling, of which coincidentally is a peak year for sea ice concentrations? 1979? Funny thing about satellites, they orbit the entire earth. If you looked a little closer you would see that the IPCC Nimbus 5 data includes the Antarctic. “Also interesting to note how much Antarctic sea ice has increased since 1976. The gain has been massive.There is probably more sea ice on Earth now, than there was in the mid-1970s – which was the peak of the ice age scare. “

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    Bryan - oz4caster


    Looks like my graph image didn’t load. Trying again with a different browser.

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    The volcano pictured in the article (Smithsonian):


    Volcano types:
    Shield volcano
    Pyroclastic cones Summit Elev: 3460 m
    Latitude: 76.28°S
    Longitude: 112.08°W
    Mount Takahe is an isolated shield volcano in eastern Marie Byrd Land with an 8-km-wide summit caldera. The massive 780 cu km volcano displays a conical, youthful morphology, and the oldest dated rocks are only 0.31 million years old. Three samples were too young to date by Potassium-Argon, and some tephra layers younger than 30,000 years in the Byrd Station ice core are thought to have originated from Mount Takahe. Two early Holocene phreatomagmatic tephra layers in the Antarctic ice core were attributed to Mount Takahe (Palais et al., 1988). The latest stage of activity at Mount Takahe constructed cinder cones on the upper southern flanks and tuff cones and cinder cones on the lower SW and NE flanks.

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    Also note that there are other volcanic edifices, not as yet specifically named in the Gary Mountains (~100 km to the W along the same fault structure) and also at least 4 edifices in the Executive Committee Range (~240 km to the W along same fault system). Given this is arguably a younger, more active developed range, it is conceivable there has been considerable heat flow distributed beneath the ice on this side of the continent. There are many others identifiable on Google Earth Maps further along structure.

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