Antarctica, the fifth-largest continent, is commonly known for penguins, massive calving ice shelves and failed exploratory expeditions.
But this frozen swath on the bottom of the world wasn’t always so isolated; it was once part of a larger supercontinent. So when did it become its own continent?
Today, Antarctica is the largest block of ice on Earth, covering more than 5.4 million square miles (14 million square kilometers). Hidden beneath the ice, the rocks of Antarctica reveal the dynamic history of the continent.
“Antarctica is a continent just like any other that has a wide variety of landscapes (mountain ranges, valleys and plains) all shaped by its geologic history,” said Libby Ives, a doctoral candidate in geosciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Much of this geologic history remains a mystery because less than 1% of the continent has rocks exposed that could help us tell this story”.