Scientists may have found Earth's largest canyon

It's really just a huge hole in the ground.

An international team of researchers led by Durham University believe they've discovered the largest canyon on Earth. Using satellite data and ground-penetrating radar, they estimate it to be more than 100 km long and as deep as 1 km in places. They'll need to make direct measurements to confirm these findings, though that will be difficult given that the canyon is buried under several kilometers of East Antarctic ice sheet. The team suspects that the canyon was either carved out of the bedrock by water flowing under the ice or is so absurdly old that it was around before Antarctica shifted to the South Pole via tectonic forces and frozen over.

What's more, the researchers believe that this canyon links up with a series of other canyons in the region and could feed a massive 1250km² subglacial lake. "This is a region of the Earth that is bigger than the UK and yet we still know little about what lies beneath the ice," lead researcher Dr Stewart Jamieson, from the Department of Geography at Durham University, said in a statement. "In fact, the bed of Antarctica is less well known than the surface of Mars. If we can gain better knowledge of the buried landscape we will be better equipped to understand how the ice sheet responds to changes in climate." The team hopes to confirm the size and scope of the newly-discovered canyon by the end of the year.

[Image Credit: Getty]