Rock & Gem
A “Fossil Reservoir” Discovered Beneath Antarctic Ice
As Earth warms, ice melts in arctic regions, releasing huge amounts of water into our oceans. Researchers have long known about shallow pools and rivers of water facilitating the ow of glacial ice into the oceans. Now they’ve found a layer beneath the Whillans ice stream in West Antarctica over 3,000 feet thick, composed of sediments representing a mix of ancient seawater and water derived from glacial ice. is could have a profound impact.
A team led by Chloe Gustafson (Columbia University and the University of California, San Diego) found that fast-owing ice streams modulated by subglacial water systems are not conned to shallow margins of Antarctica. Using seismic data, Gustafson’s team discovered “deep sub-ice stream groundwater.”
is discovery may change our understanding of water ow dynamics beneath glacial ice. Per Gustafson and her colleagues, their data reveals a volume of groundwater “that is more than an order of magnitude larger than the known subglacial system” and this nding is important toward understanding just how quickly ice might ow o of Antarctica and aect sea level rise globally.
We humans rely upon metals. ey are supremely important resources. Billions of tons are mined each year. But we’ve greatly wasted this precious mineral resource.
In an article in the journal Nature Sustainability, a team including industrial ecologist Christoph Helbig (University of Bayreuth, Germany) has found that only a handful of metals are recycled and reused. Among 61 commercially used metals, including cobalt and gallium (both important components in current technologies) more than half have a “lifespan” of ten years or less. Gold, iron, and lead seem to be the exception in that they are re-used and repurposed many times over. But, in general, we humans use-and-abuse then toss aside. As much as 84% of vital metals end up in land lls.
With rising environmental costs, Helbig and colleagues argue in favor of stronger mandates to recycle to reduce the huge scale of waste and destruction both in terms of mining for more minerals and land lls lling with minerals already used and now discarded despite the potential toward contributing to sustainable economies.