A few of West Antarctica’s glaciers that lie directly above the 5,000-mile long, world class, heat-emitting West Antarctic Fault / Rift System are bottom melting from deep earth geologically induced high geothermal heat flow and heated fluid flow, not manmade atmospheric global warming.

Figure 1  Recently released and widely publicized NASA high altitude photo of West Antarctic
area where three glaciers are bottom melting at an accelerated rate. A proxy for high melting rate,
high glacial velocity, is shown as red shading and black arrows (photo credit NASA Earth Observatory).


The media and prominent entities studying Antarctica’s glaciers, most notably the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), see things quite differently.

They believe that the increased basal melting of these West Antarctic glaciers is from manmade atmospheric global warming. According to NASA, manmade CO2 emissions have acted to greatly warm Earth’s atmosphere thereby heating West Antarctica’s surrounding ocean waters. This heated ocean water then acts to bottom melt portions of several West Antarctic glaciers, specifically portions of these glaciers that ride atop of this warmed water. There are numerous and very serious problems with this explanation:

  1. Overall ice mass and extent of Antarctica has increased for 35 years. This strongly implies that Earth’s supposedly anomalously warmed atmosphere is not having any noticeable or direct effect on this continent’s glaciers.
  2. Other nearby West Antarctic glaciers are growing, not melting / diminishing (see here). This is an extremely telling piece of information because many of the nearby glaciers also ride atop the surrounding Antarctic ocean water. Why aren’t they melting? Clearly some other non-atmospheric or non-ocean warming natural force is at play in the West Antarctic area.
  3. A few West Antarctic glaciers that are not riding on top of ocean water are also bottom melting. This again indicates that some other non-atmospheric or non-ocean warming natural force is at play in localized regions of West Antarctica.
  4. Lastly and most importantly, the role that geologically induced deep earth heat flow and chemically charged heated fluid flow likely play in bottom melting the three studied West Antarctic glaciers (Pope, Smith, Kohler) is not considered or even mentioned by those performing the research.

This article will show the role geologically deep earth heat flow and chemically charged heated fluid flow plays in bottom melting selected West Antarctic glaciers with a special focus on the Pope, Smith, and Kohler Glaciers.

Let’s begin by reviewing Figure 1. This one image, minus the “Volcano” designation, has been featured front and center in an avalanche of media and NASA articles stating that several West Antarctic Glaciers are melting at “alarming and unprecedented rates.” By taking a closer look at this image we can observe something quite interesting. There is what appears to be a very large flat-top high mountain located just east of the bottom melting glaciers. A more precise understanding of this “feature” can be obtained by zooming in, and then comparing the zoomed image to a currently erupting West Antarctic volcano, Mount Erebus (Figure 2). The two images are strikingly similar. Clearly, the “feature” which is only 35 miles east of the bottom melting glaciers is a volcano, no question.

Figure 2  Blow-up of the obvious volcano 35 miles east of bottom melting West Antarctic Glaciers, and a comparison
photo of West Antarctica’s actively erupting and heat flowing Mount Erebus volcano (Mount Erebus Becomes Active).


Next let’s correct a few misconceptions about how volcanoes work; specifically, they are not just classified as either erupting (spewing ash into the atmosphere) or extinct (completely dead with no activity). There is a third classification termed dormant, in the vernacular this means semi-active. These semi-active volcanoes, including those located beneath glaciers, are known to commonly pulse heat and chemically charged hot fluids in rock layers surrounding the volcano. This heat can extend out 50 miles (see here Iceland Volcano and here Sub-Glacial Eruptions).

Before you write this off as esoteric geological nonsense, you may want to know that this exact heat and hot fluid pulsing is currently occurring beneath many of the glaciers located in the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System. Proof positive comes from the existence of a giant completely interconnected liquid fresh water stream and lake complex that exists under a huge portion of West Antarctica (see here).

This is a giant water drainage system that is similar to ones on dry land continents, except it is located under thousands of glacial ice and driven / generated by high geothermal heat flow. Wells drilled through the 7,000 feet of overlying glacial ice and into this system have found; liquid flowing water at high temperatures, unusual biota associated with hot springs, unusual chemicals in the water that may be associated with hot springs, and fault zones.

Figure 3 shows a cross cut of Lake Vostok, a subglacial lake drilled and researched by numerous scientific groups. Importantly note that the glacial bottom melting effect of the one Lake Vostok mini-volcano labeled “geothermal activity” spreads out laterally 26 miles. The main takeaway from this part of the article is that the volcanic feature east of the Pope, Smith, and Kohler West Antarctic Glaciers may, in fact, be the cause of bottom melting by the process of laterally pulsing heat or heated fluid laterally and onto the base of these ice masses. This is a proven and common process of semi-active volcanoes.

Figure 3  Russian scientists were the first to drill into a geologically (geothermal) heated sub-glacial lake or stream, specifically Lake Vostok (see here)


There is an absolutely staggering amount of geological information that proves the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System is actively emitting heat and heated fluid onto the base of selected overlying West Antarctic glaciers. First, there are 61 active or semi-active volcanoes along the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System, including the “feature” volcano (Figure 4).

Three of these volcanoes located along the northern end of the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System are currently erupting (see here), and one these volcanoes located on the southern end of the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System is also currently erupting (see here).

Numerous research studies, most notably one by the University of Texas, show that there is deep earth high geothermal heat flow in West Antarctica associated with a segment of the West Antarctic Fault / Rift System (see here). In fact, this particular documented high heat flow area which is proven to be the cause of bottom melting of the Thwaites Glacier is a mere 100 miles north of the Pope, Smith, and Kohler Glaciers! Oh and also…the Thwaites Glacier is adjacent to a flat-top high mountain, Mount Takahe, which is 60 miles west of the Thwaites Glacier. Interesting.

Figure 4  Map of the “active” (currently erupting) or “dormant” (semi-active) Antarctic Continent volcanoes, 61 of 62
are located along the branching West Antarctic Fault / Rift System. This active fault zone is tearing the
continent apart and allowing deep hot magma to flow up the faults feeding the volcanoes.


In summary and to put it mildly, the media and NOAA neglected to mention a few things in their hasty pronouncements of what has caused “alarming and unprecedented rates” of bottom melting at the Pope, Smith, and Kohler Glaciers of West Antarctica. By including just one of those things, the relevant and obvious geological information as briefly reviewed in this article, it becomes very clear that our understanding of what drives polar ice thickness variations is far from complete.

As a result and in a broader sense this article shows that the science of climate is far from settled. Clearly, it’s time to re-open the climate discussion to all scientists, not just those favoring the Theory of Global Warming.