In only the second reported incident of its type in Antarctica a Jökulhlaup, or sudden outburst of basal melt water from beneath the ice cap, erupted near Robinsons Ridge, 15 kilometres south of Casey.
Australian scientists are hoping this rare sub-glacial water eruption will reveal why meltwater is present, and the extent of a river and dam system flowing deep under the Law Dome ice cap.
The first eruption occurred in 1985-86. The new eruption was first noticed as scientists observed springs of flowing water erupting from the surface of the ice during the 2014 winter, before refreezing.
The refrozen water is has a striking olive-green colour, which contrasts sharply with the surrounding blue ice and white snow.
Moreover, this potentially very old water probably holds key information about the conditions under the ice of Law Dome.
Watch the amazing footage of the Eyjafjallajökull glacial flood (jökalhlaup) on April 14th 2010. It’s insane:
Samples of the frozen Jökalhlaup water are currently being collected by scientists, which will then be chemically and isotopically analysed in different universities to pinpoint the origin of the basal water and understand the past and present behaviour of the ice cap, and how it might evolve in the future.
Previous results have shown that Law Dome had high geo-thermal heat emanating from the Earth’s crust which was melting the bottom of the ice cap before flowing into the ocean through gigantic ice systems under the ice sheet.