FOUND: The World's Largest Canyon, Hidden Under Antarctic Ice - Atlas Obscura
Our new kids' book is on sale! Shop now.

FOUND: The World’s Largest Canyon, Hidden Under Antarctic Ice

Antarctica (Photo: NASA)

There are few places left on Earth that have not been thoroughly mapped and explored, and one of them is a spot in Antarctica called Princess Elizabeth Land. It’s a bleak-seeming place, as NASA writes:

If you were flying inland over Antarctica’s Princess Elizabeth Land…you wouldn’t find much variety to the scenery. There are no forests, no meandering rivers, no soaring mountains. What you would see instead is a seemingly endless, flat expanse of wind-blown snow and ice—the surface of one of the thick ice sheets that shrouds most of Antarctica.

But beneath that icy surface, there’s a whole layer of land that we know very little about, since there have been few studies of the ice’s thickness there. When a team of geologists from England started examining satellite imagery of this area, they found hints of an incredible feature hidden under the ice—the world’s largest canyon.

This canyon looks to be 683 miles long and .6 miles below sea level. Yes, that is longer than the Grand Canyon, which is 277 miles long (although deeper, in parts). 

The canyon’s extent, and even its existence, still needs to be confirmed by more on-the-ground data. The satellite images the research team examined showed “faint traces” of the canyon under the ice. But radio-echo sounding data in some sections gave them confidence that they had indeed found something truly magnificent, one of the last great geographical wonders of the world.

Bonus finds: 2,500 pounds of pot inside fake carrots, the site of the Salem witch hangings (right next to a Walgreens)  

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.