Are there subglacial caverns under the mountains buried under the ice?

Asked by Frank

Since there are subglacial lakes in Antarctica and at least some of those lakes are know to be interconnected, then isn’t it possible that there are also subglacial caverns eroded over millions of years inside the mountains buried under the ice?

Hi Frank, I’m a bit confused by this question I must admit. Are you asking about karst landscapes, or subterranean lakes? It’s a really interesting question and one that I must admit is difficult to answer with our current understanding of Antarctic geology. It’s possible that it would be difficult to erode large caverns (such as you might see in limestone landscapes) as the pressure caused by the weight above may cause the rocks to collapse. More research to uncover Antarctica’s geology may help to understand this!


I am a Senior Lecturer at Newcastle Univeristy, specialising in glaciology and glacial geology. I wrote and developed the website as part of an ongoing commitment to outreach, education and research impact. Read more about me at

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