Was a secret pyramid discovered in Antarctica? Not exactly
A years-long mystery surrounding a possible pyramid in Antarctica may have just been solved
People have been enthralled by the secrets of the world for as long as they’ve been able to think critically. The planet has always had a certain air of mystery to it, and the lengthy discoveries mankind has made over the course of centuries don’t seem to shorten the list of new ones. Whether it be something as simple as a new species in the sea or something more complicated like century-old landmarks, Mother Nature has a reserved way about her.
In the last few years, though, there has been a ‘new’ discovery that has made waves in the online community and has even been picked up by the likes of Ancient Aliens on The History Channel. That discovery is the Antarctic pyramid. But is it even a pyramid?
What’s all the fuss about?
Countless internet blogs and news websites have picked up the story since 2016, stating that the recent discovery of an Antarctic pyramid could mean big things in terms of figuring out how the structures were built all those years ago. The population that loves a good intrigue has been eating it up, too. After all, if it were a snow-covered pyramid 8,000 miles from The Great Pyramid of Giza, that could be a serious piece of the mystery pie that surrounds the Egyptian architectural marvels.
That being said, it may not be as exciting as some conspiracy theorists would have you believe. The pyramid itself is just another run of the mill mountain. It may be a less fun explanation, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Even the way it was discovered is shrouded in mystery. The true story, however, isn’t all that magical.
When was the ‘pyramid’ discovered?
In 1910, a brave group of British explorers made their way to the icy, harsh lands that are known as Antarctica. This particular stint by the British Expedition lasted three years and was led by Robert Falcon Scott. Following Scott’s expedition to Antarctica from 1901 to 1904, he wanted to return to help finish what he started in his exploration of the world’s southernmost point.
Captain Robert Falcon Scott writing at a table in his den in Antarctica during the British Antarctic (“Terra Nova”) Expedition (1910-1913). Taken by Herbert George Ponting on the 7th of October 1911. pic.twitter.com/jAvYFObrmm
— New Zealand In Colour (@nzincolour) September 14, 2019
In their hunt to be the first people to reach the south pole, Scott and his team were said to have stumbled upon the pyramid-like structure while venturing through the land. It’s also been said that they tried to keep the discovery a secret, but considering that other explorers had already been in the area and the entire British Expedition died on their way back from the south pole, it’s hard to imagine that the secret was kept on purpose—if at all.
If not a pyramid, what is it?
Simply put, the ice and snow-covered pyramid is nothing more than a mountain across the plains of Antarctica in the Ellsworth Mountains area. The mountain is located south of the Pyramid Trough and is in close proximity to the famous Koettlitz Glacier. It’s also in the same area as a series of ponds known as the Pyramid Ponds and Trough Lake.
The fitting name describes it perfectly and doesn’t allude to any other mystery that some may still believe surround the geological marvel.
The term given to this type of summit (unofficially) is a Pyramidal Mountain. The alp itself isn’t particularly impressive as far as mountains go. It stands at only 1,265 meters high. Its shape is the most unique thing about it, which is probably why it has garnered so much widespread attention in recent years.
How was it formed?
The impressive point of the top of the Pyramid is actually called a pyramid peak and can be found in lots of other places across the world where mountains stand in the same conditions. Because the weather in Antarctica is so cold all the time, it’s not such a stretch to conclude that water that falls onto these mountains will freeze.
When any water or snow manages to get into the cracks in the surface of the mountain, a process called freeze-thaw erosion occurs.
Freeze-thaw erosion is when cracks in the surface of the mountain are formed from freezing water or snow. If more and more build-up of the snow and ice occurs within these cracks, they will continue to break even further due to the expansion of the water as it turns into ice. Eventually, this continuous cycle of freezing and thawing leads to parts of the mountain breaking off. If it happens enough times, the shape that a summit will end up with is much like The Pyramid Mountain. In fact, the Matterhorn (a mountain located in the alps) has the same pointed structure from freeze-thaw erosion.
The theories were fun, though.
If you’ve ever watched Ancient Aliens, you’ll know that a lot of conspiracy theorists believe that the Egyptian pyramids, and a lot of other structures found scattered across the globe, were created entirely by extraterrestrial beings that visited earth millions of years ago. The same can be said for the Antarctica Pyramid. The fact that it looks just like the top of a pyramid buried under a ton of ice and snow led some to draw the conclusion that neither Mother Nature nor humans could have had any hand in creating it.
Ancient Aliens: A Pyramid in Antarctica
Ancient astronaut theorists believe pyramids could’ve even been built on Antarctica and been mistaken for naturally-occurring structures in this clip fromhttps://t.co/2dJXQbv6jY pic.twitter.com/6lbwQ2b2GC
— Science Academy (@SienceAcademy) November 26, 2018
Another theory claimed that the mountain itself was man-made as a base for secret government operations. Finally, the last theory that floated around the internet was surrounding the discovery of the pyramid. Some conspiracy theorists claimed that the expedition mentioned above tried to hide their discovery. Considering the mountain and all of its area was mapped shortly after, that theory doesn’t quite hold up as interestingly as the rest of them.
All credit goes to Mother Nature
Although conspiracy theories involving the world can be fun at times, the one surrounding the Pyramid in Antarctica isn’t all that solid, as far as conspiracy theories go. According to geologists, the fact that it could have ever picked up speed as an otherworldly creation is way off base.
The location of the photographer and the fact that The Antarctic Pyramid stands in a sea of other mountains (it’s on a mountain range, after all) make it hard to believe that anything but nature could have created it.
The fact remains that the Pyramid is just a mountain and any mountain that lived its entire life in the coldest conditions imaginable under ice and snow would suffer the same fate. The developed nunatak (a mountain peak that sticks out from the ice sheet covering it) is quite common and isn’t something that can be debated.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
- It’s not a myth! Sea monster fossil found in Antarctica | Science 101
The ancient mystery of whether or not a sea monster ever existed has finally been solved.
- Voyage, discovery, and the ultimate Antarctic expedition | Science 101
The shining history of humans and their Antarctic conquering.