Massive volcanoes are hidden beneath the ice sheet in Antarctica, according to a new study published by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, and this number is considerably more than previously thought.
138 of 178 cone-shaped edifices found in the region named the West Antarctic Rift System (WARS) are "likely volcanoes", said the study.
91 identified volcanoes of these structures had never been discovered before, some of which could even stretch up to 12,600 feet (3850 meters) tall in height.
Researchers also pointed out the density of volcanoes in this region could be approximately one volcano per 4,800 square miles (about 12,432 square kilometers), comparable to the volcanic regions in East Africa and western North America, making the Antarctic one of the largest volcanic regions in the world as well.
Until now, there is not enough accurate data indicating these volcanoes are still active, said researchers.
Comparing with the glaciers' retreat in Iceland, however, researchers believe those volcanoes will have the ability to have an impact on the ice sheet in the Antarctic as well.
In Iceland, volcanoes erupting under the glaciers are considered as one of the main factors in the melting of basal ice, which results in an obvious increase in ice sheet retreat.
However, the Iceland's ice is considerably thinner than the one in WARS.
On the other hand, the volcanoes in the Antarctic may play an important role in stabilizing the ice retreat as well.
Any increase in roughness or obstacles in the ice bed will reduce the speed of ice retreat, claimed the study.