Data NASA provided to scientists from an airborne science mission has revealed the existence of a massive canyon in Greenland that has been hidden for the entirety of human history on the Earth. According to the scientists, the canyon has the characteristics of a winding river channel and is at least 460 miles long. That means it’s longer than the Grand Canyon.
The scientific data also shows that in some sections the Greenland Canyon is as deep as 2600 feet, putting it on scale with certain segments of the Grand Canyon. Scientists believe that the massive canyon predates the ice sheet that has covered Greenland the last few million years.
The team of scientists that discovered the canyon used thousands of miles an airborne radar data collected by NASA in cooperation with scientists from the UK and Germany over several decades. The radar data was used to piece together what the landscape of Greenland underneath a mile of ice looks like.
The bulk of the data used to make the discovery was collected between 2009 and2012 by NASA during the Operation IceBridge campaign. That mission was designed to study polar ice and the Multichannel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder that was part of that mission was able to see through the layers of ice to measure thickness of ice and the shape of bedrock below. The continuous bedrock canyon discovered extends from the center of Greenland and ends beneath the Petermann Glacier fjord in northern Greenland.