Greenland's Grand Canyon

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Animation of the canyon
Topographic map of the bedrock under the ice

Greenland's Grand Canyon or Grand Canyon of Greenland is a tentative canyon of record length discovered underneath the Greenland ice sheet as reported in the journal Science on 30 August 2013 (submitted 29 April 2013), by scientists from the University of Bristol, University of Calgary, and University of Urbino, who described it as a mega-canyon.[1][2][3]

Ice-penetrating radar data collected during NASA's Operation IceBridge showed a huge subglacial canyon[4] running from the central region of the island northward into the Arctic Ocean, to the fjord of the Petermann Glacier. The canyon is likely to have influenced basal water flow from the ice sheet interior to the margin. Jonathan Bamber, a geographer at University of Bristol, stated, "The distinctive V-shaped walls and flat bottom suggests water carved the buried valley, not ice."[4]

The canyon is more than 750 kilometres (466 mi) long, up to 800 metres (2,600 ft) deep and 10 kilometres (6 mi) wide, making it the longest canyon discovered on the Earth to date.[5] There are, however, many canyons—including Arizona's Grand Canyon and Xizang's Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, previously the world's longest—that are deeper.

The canyon predates ice sheet inception and has influenced basal hydrology in Greenland over past glacial cycles.[5][6][7] It is estimated to be at least four million years old, possibly millions of years older.


  1. ^ "Beneath Greenland's ice, a grand canyon". CNN. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Scientists Discover a Mega-Canyon Beneath the Melting Ice Sheets of Greenland". TIME. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Jonathan L. Bamber, Martin J. Siegert, Jennifer A. Griggs, Shawn J. Marshall, and Giorgio Spada, "Paleofluvial Mega-Canyon Beneath the Central Greenland Ice Sheet", Science, 30 August 2013, Vol. 341 no. 6149, pp. 997-999. doi:10.1126/science.1239794
  4. ^ a b Oskin, Becky, "'Grand Canyon of Greenland' discovered under ice sheet", NBC News, August 29, 2013
  5. ^ a b Oskin, Becky. "Grand Canyon of Greenland Discovered under Ice". Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Greenland's Mega Canyon (narrated video)". NASA. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Canyon longer than Grand Canyon found buried under Greenland ice sheet". The Daily Telegraph. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.