Mystery Under the Ice

Antarctica’s Many Strange Secrets Remain Tightly Held

Will We Find an ‘Oasis’ Beneath Antarctica’s Lid?

Beneath thousands of feet of ice, Antarctica is home to a vast warm water world which may contain a thriving “oasis of life.” According to a dramatic report released in December by National Geographic News (, Antarctica is not a barren polar desert, after all, but, indeed is a rich, complex envi­ronment where rivers larger than the Amazon link a series of “Lake districts,” which may teem with mineral-hungry microbes. For others, the possibilities could be much greater, offering, perhaps, even the remains of lost civilization.

The buried lakes are contributing to the current rapid melting of Antarctic ice and creating what could be the world’s largest wetlands. The lakes stay fluid, say scientists, because the ice covers them like blankets, trapping the heat which rises from the earth’s interior. So far about 145 lakes have been found, and nobody is sure exactly what kinds of life they may host, but “bizarre new deep-sea creatures” have been found off the coast of Antarctica which are believed to originate from the buried Antarctic wetlands.

Covered by the ice for possibly millions of years, the lakes, it is thought, will prove to be pristine environments which may give scientists a glimpse of life on a completely different evolutionary track than our own.

“This is essentially a whole new world that ten years ago we didn’t know existed,” said Michael Studinger, a geo­physicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in New York.

“If you peel back the ice sheet, you would expect a watery landscape similar to what we would see on the surface of earth.”

Studinger plans to participate in a major aerial mapping project in 2008 which should offer a great deal of new data about what may be found beneath the ice.—Editor.

In September, 1948 Time Magazine published an article about the theory of one Hugh Auchincloss Brown, then aged 69, titled, “Can the Earth Capsize?” Brown, an Electrical Engineer from Douglaston, New York, warned that the earth was like an “overloaded canoe,” because the accumulation of ice in the Antarctic caused it to be “bottom heavy,” and subject to an imminent polar shift. Time ran the short news item because they were impressed that the ultra­conservative New York Times had recently thought enough of Brown’s alarming hypothesis to elaborate on it at length (“Antarctic Doomsday, An Editorial,” NYT September 1, 1948). According to the Time’s article, Brown recom­mended “atomic blasting” in Antarctica to dissolve the excess glaciality, and prevent the inevitable coming catas­trophe. Brown had assailed congressmen, newspapers and magazines for years with his predictions of an imminent doomsday, and the need to allocate $10 million to nuke Antarctica. Probably, it was when he prophesied that New York City would be under water that the New York Times took notice.

Brown believed that such polar shifts occurred around every 6,000 years because the ice accumulation at the poles caused the earth to topple over on its side such that previously torrid parts of the globe became frozen over, and the polar areas became tropical. The axis of spin, however, remained at the customary 23.5 degree tilt, but now with new geographic poles. This polar flip always occurred suddenly and quickly and wrought incredible devastation. He claimed that this also explained the so-called “ice ages” which were really just localized phenomena in the new polar areas. In 1967, when he was 88, Brown’s extensive notes and research were incorporated into his book Cataclysms of the Earth (Twayne Publishers, Inc., New York). In the 290-page book, Brown cited copious geological proofs of his theory in terms of land formations all over the world whose striations showed successive epochs of differentiation of about 6,000 years each. Perhaps his most convincing argument for sudden climatic change derives from the “wooly” mammoths found perfectly preserved in the frozen tundra of northern Siberia. The famed Bereskovka Mammoth was found in 1901 at 66 degrees north latitude in Siberia, almost at the Arctic Circle. Half-chewed grasses were found in his mouth and 27 pounds in his stomach, which means he died suddenly while eating. The grasses were analyzed and most were found to be from a temperate climate. And he died of suffocation. Brown reasons that the animal “perished in the super-hurricane and dust and dirt storm caused by the rapid movement of the earth’s surface against the air.”

The mammoth must have then been “quick frozen” by sudden extreme cold to have been so preserved. Many such preserved animals were found in Siberia, including rhinoceroses and antelope, normally native to the warmer re­gions.

Around 1949, Charles Hapgood, a 45-year-old professor of Anthropology and History at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire, was asked by one of his students about Atlantis. This intrigued Hapgood and prompted a nine-year investigation into ancient geography. Hapgood ultimately developed a theory of periodic displacement of the earth’s 60-mile-thick crust over the planetary core, which resulted in polar shifts, and in 1958 he published his book on the subject titled Earth’s Shifting Crust. The foreword to the book, basically endorsing Hapgood’s theory, was written by Albert Einstein shortly before his death in 1955. Einstein said, “The constantly increasing centrifugal momentum produced in this way will, when it has reached a certain point, produce a movement of the earth’s crust over the rest of the earth’s body, and this will displace the polar regions toward the equator.” Although there is no ev­idence of this, it appears that Hapgood was influenced by Brown. If not, then it is truly remarkable that he would have come to essentially the same conclusions by a different route. Although Brown proposed an actual planetary flip while Hapgood theorized a crustal slippage, the net result is basically the same—the poles get shifted to new plane­tary locations, while the 23.5 degree axis angle remains the same. Both theories place the blame for the pole shift on the build-up of Antarctic ice. According to the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, England, the ice accumu­lation in Antarctica amounts to 2,000 billion tons each year. This, they say, is enough to build a wall 10 inches thick and a half mile high from New York to California—every year!

Antarctic Atlantis

Hapgood’s second book, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, published in 1966, still one year before Brown’s book ap­peared, reveals two sixteenth-century maps and one eighteenth-century map that are remarkably correct and have been pronounced genuine by experts. They confound explanation as to how they could have been created. Most nota­bly, the continent of Antarctica is shown, configured correctly, in an ice-free state on all three maps. Since Antarctica was not discovered until 1820, that it should appear at all on these maps is astonishing. All three mapmakers ac­knowledged that their information came from ancient maps probably going back to about 4,000 B.C. If it is true that Antarctica was ice-free at that time, the Brown/Hapgood thesis starts to take on believability. According to Brown, in the last epoch, prior to the “great flood,” Antarctica was at the Equator, as it will be again in the next “shake-up,” since he claims that the planet basically does a 90-degree flip with each pole shift.

The possibility of an ice-free Antarctica only 6,000 years ago, as depicted by the ancient maps, caused Canadian writer Rand Flem-Ath to consider that it could have been Atlantis, and motivated him to explore that possibility at length. Initially not acquainted with Hapgood’s theory, he came to conclude that a temperate or tropical Antarctica matched Plato’s description of Atlantis in the Criteas and Timeaus almost perfectly. But he couldn’t understand how that could have happened until he encountered Hapgood’s crustal displacement explanation, and then he became convinced he was right. Flem-Ath and his wife Rose then delved deeper into Atlantis research and Hapgood’s books, ultimately resulting in a synthesis of both concepts in the book When the Sky Fell: In Search of Atlantis (Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd, Canada, 1995), which they co-authored. Their theory was endorsed by Graham Hancock in his book, Fingerprints of the Gods, as well as by well-known, highly respected researcher-writers Colin Wilson and John Anthony West. For a complete discussion of the Flem-Aths’ justification of Antarctica as Atlantis, see the article in AR issue # 7 by editor Doug Kenyon.

A Nazi Base

Many have sensed the aura of mystery surrounding this huge glacial world at the bottom of the planet. Now cov­ered with a blanket of ice over two miles thick, it is only natural to wonder what secrets might be concealed under that frigid protective wrap. If it was indeed Atlantis, is it possible that a remnant of that high civilization might still remain there in warmer underground caverns? Apparently, the Nazis believed, or at least strongly suspected, some­thing about Antarctica’s Atlantean past, when they mounted an elaborate and expensive expedition to the South Pole in 1938. When it is considered that Germany was on the brink of launching a world war that year, with all the preoc­cupations and military preparations necessary for such an undertaking, it is astounding that they would find it so im­portant to expend the resources necessary to explore and lay claim to a barren wasteland half-way around the world with no apparent military significance! They hired intrepid polar explorer Richard Byrd, then a civilian, to come to Hamburg and brief the expedition leaders. According to the controversial UFO conspiracy tome, The Omega File, “Beginning in 1938…the Nazis (sic) commenced to send out numerous exploratory missions to the Queen Maud re­gion of Antarctica. A steady stream of expeditions were reportedly sent out from (at the time) white supremacist South Africa. Over 230,000 square miles of the frozen continent were mapped from the air, and the Germans discov­ered vast regions that were surprisingly free of ice, as well as warm water lakes and cave inlets. One vast ice cave with­in the glacier was reportedly found to extend 30 miles to a large hot-water geothermal lake deep below. Various scien­tific teams were moved in to the area, including hunters, trappers, collectors and zoologists, botanists, agriculturists, plant specialists, mycologists, parasitologists, marine biologists, ornithologists, and many others.” The Germans dropped hundreds of swastika-adorned flags all over Queen Maud Land to establish their claim over the area.

According to James Roberts, a British civil servant and WWII historian, in an article in Nexus Magazine (Volume 12, No. 5, August 2005), the Germans succeeded in building an underground base in the massive ice cave, using the discovered inlets for access. He claims that British soldiers from the secret Antarctic Maudheim Base found the en­trance in late 1945, and “followed the tunnel for miles, and eventually they came to a vast underground cavern that was abnormally warm; some of the scientists believed that it was warmed geothermally. In the huge cavern were un­derground lakes; however, the mystery deepened, as the cavern was lit artificially. The cavern proved so extensive that they had to split up, and that was when the real discoveries were made. The Nazis had constructed a huge base into the caverns and had even built docks for U-boats, and one was identified supposedly. Still, the deeper they traveled, the more strange visions they were greeted with. The survivor reported that ‘hangars for strange planes and excava­tions galore’ had been documented.” It was this British intelligence and other information elicited from former U-Boat captains that triggered the U.S.-led Operation Highjump in December, 1946. The operation force consisted of thirteen ships, including the aircraft carrier “Philippine Sea,” and 4700 soldiers. Ironically, this mission was in the charge of Richard Byrd, now a navy admiral with a distinguished war record. In a press release given on November 12, 1946, Byrd said, “the purposes of the operation are primarily of a military nature, that is, to train naval personnel and to test ships, planes and equipment under frigid zone conditions.” However, since it was planned by, and under the command of, war hero Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, it is logical to believe that the real purpose of the mission was to destroy the Nazi Antarctic base. Originally scheduled to be a six-month operation, it was mysteriously aborted after only three months.

Lake Vostok

In 1957, the Russians built a base in central Antarctica called “Vostok Station.” In the 1970s they discovered through the use of airborne radar that the base was directly over the tip of a huge subglacial lake under two miles of ice. Through a combination of orbital radar measurements, and surface seismological readings, they determined that the now christened Lake Vostok was roughly the size of Lake Ontario and was about 3,000 feet deep. According to Richard Hoagland in his web site, The Enterprise Mission, written in 2001, the water in Lake Vostok “ranges from 50 to 65 degrees F, clearly indicating a subterranean heat source. In addition, the whole lake is covered by a sloping air ‘dome’ several thousand feet high that has formed (from the “hot” water melting the overlaying ice) just above the lake’s surface. Core samples taken by the Russians a couple years ago at their Vostok base—when they drilled down very close to the bottom of the ice sheet—have revealed the presence of microbes, nutrients and various gases—like methane—embedded in the clear, re-frozen lake water just above the ‘dome.’ Such items are typical signatures of bio­logical processes. The lake, therefore, has all the ingredients of a truly incredible scientific discovery: a completely “isolated” eco-system—(with)…current biological activity.”

In early 2001, says Hoagland, “A team of scientists from Columbia University, working under the auspices of the National Science Foundation—began a series of unprecedented low-altitude aerial surveys over Lake Vostok, de­signed to chart gravitational, magnetic and thermal activity under the ice. In the course of doing so, they made a stunning find. A huge magnetic anomaly was discovered covering the entire southeast portion of the shore of the lake.” One of the possible explanations for this, Hoagland theorizes, is a large accumulation of metallic structures. This, he says, could be “the ruins of an ancient, buried city.” Immediately after this finding, the Jet Propulsion Lab pulled back its Lake Vostok exploration effort, and turned the program over to the NSA. This scenario, says Hoag­land, is “eerily” reminiscent of the plot of the French novel Subterranean “in which Antarctic scientists discover an inhabited ‘Lost City’ under the ice.”

Around the same time as the anomaly discovery, news of a series of very strange and suspicious events surfaced re­garding the Vostok Station and the U.S. McMurdo Base, as reported by Hoagland. Someone at McMurdo started circu­lating a rumor about a giant UFO hovering over the base, and a poster appeared at the base depicting the scene. The rumor-monger was promptly “deported” to New Zealand. Then three young Russian scientists at Vostok died over a two-year period, one of whom had discovered a series of geometric “dunes” in the center of the anomaly. The causes of their deaths were never reported. Strangest of all, as many as twelve emergency medical evacuations were made from McMurdo during the 2001 antarctic winter season, all of whom were employees of Raytheon Corporation, de­scribed by Hoagland as “a high-tech firm that is deeply involved in a variety of black-ops programs for the U.S. gov­ernment all around the world.” Hoagland concluded from all this that possibly a top-secret U.S. drilling operation has been taking place over Lake Vostok, and that perhaps some sort of exotic virus had escaped from the lake area to the surface. Or more likely, he says, the hints of a viral epidemic were meant to explain the need for a very large air­plane to bring “something” back to the mainland. This would be more likely, since the extreme cold kills most bacte­ria and viruses. Hoagland finds a strange parallel between this story and the Arthur C. Clarke short story and film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, wherein a monolith is found on the Moon. He says, “This whole weird scenario, the discovery of a magnetic anomaly at an isolated location, the secret digging to uncover an ancient artifact, the danger of shatter­ing social consequences if the information is not properly contained, the concoction of an epidemic as a cover story for the secret activities around the extraction of the artifact—is straight out of Clarke’s ‘2001’ playbook! The only real difference is the location of the artifact, Antarctica, instead of the moon!”

As we put all this together, many questions are raised. Is there really an ancient city, possibly still thriving, per­haps a remnant of Atlantis, on the shores of Lake Vostok? Have we secretly found out about it, and maybe even been in contact with the inhabitants? Did the Nazis somehow know about the city through some paranormal revelations? Plenty of questions, but answers, so far, remain in short supply.


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