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Buried Treasure

Buried Treasure

"I never thought we would find such clean ice under that lava," said WHOI geochemist Mark Kurz during a December 2007 expedition in Antarctica. Kurz, graduate student Andrea Burke, and colleagues dug a trench in the Dry Valleys so they could measure the layers of rock and ice beneath the surface and take samples for dating. When Kurz last visited in 1994, "we judged this whole flow by what we saw at the edge--a surface of rubble with thick chunks of basalt underneath." Instead of smooth black rock, they found a thick layer of seemingly pure ice. "This doesn't really conform to any of the standard patterned-ground models I've read about," said WHOI geologist Adam Soule. Soule suspects that the ice gradually accumulated in an underground layer between the surface rocks and deeper lava, but he doesn't understand how the ice got there. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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