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Scientists Discovered an Ancient Lakebed Under Greenland’s Ice

The ancient basin, now beneath a mile of ice, is shaped like a meat cleaver.

The ancient basin, now beneath a mile of ice, is shaped like a meat cleaver.
Image: Paxman et al., EPSL, 2020

Using radar and other ice-penetrating instruments, scientists have detected a “fossil lakebed” preserved beneath the Greenland ice sheet, in what is the first discovery of its kind.

Now a basin smothered by a gigantic sheet of ice, this former lake once measured 2,740 square miles (7,100 square kilometers) in size, which is an area comparable to Rhode Island and Delaware combined, according to a Columbia University press release. In some places it got as deep as 820 feet (250 meters), and it was fed by more than a dozen streams. Doesn’t sound very Greenland-ish today, but this is how the island likely looked millions of years ago.

Eventually, however—and we’re not entirely sure when—this lake got covered in ice, never to see daylight ever again. New research

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