1. Main
  2. Learn
  3. Life
  4. Environment

Preglacial landscape found deep under Greenland ice

Greenland. ©Reuters/Michael Studinger Greenland. ©Reuters/Michael Studinger

US geologists said Thursday they have uncovered a preglacial tundra landscape preserved for 2.7 million years far below the Greenland ice sheet, AFP reports.

Glaciers are known to scrape everything off any given plot of land -- vegetation, soil and even the top layer of bedrock -- so scientists expressed great surprise that they had found the landscape in pristine condition below two miles (three kilometers) of ice.

The finding provides strong evidence that the ice sheet has existed for much longer than previously known, and survived numerous global warming episodes, according to the lead researcher, University of Vermont geologist Paul Bierman.

Rather than scraping and sculpting the landscape, the ice sheet has been frozen to the ground, effectively creating "a refrigerator that's preserved this antique landscape," Bierman said.

The finding suggests that even during the warmest periods of the ice sheet's life, the center of Greenland was stable and did not fully melt, allowing the tundra landscape to be sealed without modification through millions of years of changing temperatures.

"Greenland really was green! However, it was millions of years ago," said Dylan Rood, a former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist.

"Greenland looked like the green Alaskan tundra, before it was covered by the second largest body of ice on Earth."

For the study published in the journal Science, experts tested 17 samples extracted from the ice sheet in 1993 from Summit, Greenland.

They then sampled a rare form of the element beryllium, the beryllium-10 isotope formed by cosmic rays.

The research, backed by National Science Foundation funding, found that the soil had been stable and exposed at the surface between 200,000 and a million years before the ice covered it.

The team of scientists also measured nitrogen and carbon that could have been left by plant material in the core sample, and found organic material that suggested that the preglacial landscape may have been a partially forested tundra.

Nobel prizewinner proposes a new city in KZ
New abnormal snowfalls expected in Kazakhstan
Huge glacier retreat triggered in 1940s
Hyperloop construction begins in Las Vegas
"Moonlight" to top Spirit Awards nominations
Oil prices fall due to investors uncertainty
New dwarf galaxy discovered around Milky Way
Kanat Islam becomes a top ten WBO boxer
World oil prices continue to rise
Kazakhstan expects warming - Kazhydromet
Merkel to seek fourth term as chancellor
Sale of Tintin drawings set to break records
US, EU stocks fall as markets focus on dollar
Pacific leaders urged to defend free trade
EU warns eight nations on budget deficit
Universiade-2017: Athletic Village is ready
Bob Dylan can't make Nobel ceremony
Messi will never leave Barca - club president
Google, Facebook take aim at 'fake' news
Aerosmith announces Europe 'farewell' tour
Putin, Trump to normalise US-Russia ties
At least 10 hurt in southern Turkey blast
6.2 quake hits western Japan
OPEC agrees shock oil output cut
Israeli ex-president and Nobel laureate Peres dies
Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook
32,000 arrested in Turkey coup probe
Youth to the fore as Milan fashion week opens
Xenophobia threatening peace in eastern Germany
Four-in-10 Japanese are virgins: poll
Sweden re-militarises Baltic island of Gotland
China to launch second space laboratory: Xinhua
More than a billion stars mapped in Milky Way: ESA
Boxing: Golovkin eyes Saunders after stopping Brook
Kazakhstan shifts PM to security chief
Oil prices gain despite rising OPEC supply forecast
US to give Philippines military planes
Singapore wages war on Zika-bearing mosquitoes
Italy quake death toll nears 250
Viral photos add fuel to French burkini debate
18 dead as Italy struck by powerful quake
Japan's first lady visits Pearl Harbor
Pokemon's a no-go on Bangkok's roads
July was Earth's hottest month in modern times
Pakistan rock climbers scale new heights