By Dan Oancea

No better place to unveil mysteries than the remote continent of Antarctica, and no better team to unlock secrets hidden by kilometers thick ice sheets than the British Antarctic Survey.

Lakes, sometimes as huge as Lake Ontario, have formed beneath the ice because of the Earth’s radiant heat and the insulating properties of a thick ice sheet. Ancient organism, extremophiles, might be found there living in a world that has been sealed out many millions of years ago. Sediments lying on the bottom of the lakes could tell the story of past climate change.

Read the Exploration of Subglacial Lake Ellesworth and the BAS page Antarctica’s hidden lakes.

The baffling Gamburtsev Mountains are located in one of the most remote regions on Earth – just west of the Pole of Inaccessibility. Discovered by Russians some 50 years ago they rise to 3,000m and are buried under hundreds of meters of ice.

Are they witnessing an ancient orogenic event or a hot spot?

Dr. Tina van de Flierdt’s paper Evidence Against a Young Volcanic Origin of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, Antarctica tries to answer the question. She only gets deeper into mystery when she analyzes fluvio-deltaic sediments presumably generated by the Gamburtsev Mountains erosion, an event that has happened before the onset of the East Antarctic glaciations.

Antarctica (Terra Australis) was the last continent to be discovered and is protected by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty which prohibits mining and military activities.