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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 freshwater 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.
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 is 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.
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)
https://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…
https://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