FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show A ‘Massive’ Pyramid In Antarctica?

Bradley Devlin | Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a “massive” pyramid discovered in Antarctica.

Verdict: False

The pictured structure is a pyramid-shaped mountain peak, not an actual pyramid.

Fact Check:

The image shows what appears to be a screen grab of a snow-covered pyramid in Antarctica shown on Google Earth. The claim that a pyramid was discovered in Antarctica has circulated since at least 2016, with some suggesting that it was built by an ancient civilization, according to Snopes.

However, the pictured structure is actually just a pyramid-shaped mountain peak that belongs to the Heritage Range in the Ellsworth Mountains, according to CBS News. The Ellsworth Mountains were named after American aviator Lincoln Ellsworth, who discovered the stretch of Antarctic mountains during a 1935 flight.

“This is just a mountain that looks like a pyramid,” Eric Rignot, a professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, told Live Science. “Pyramid shapes are not impossible – many peaks partially look like pyramids, but they only have one to two faces like that, rarely four.” (RELATED: Image Claims To Show Lightning Over The Pyramids Of Giza)

Mauri Pelto, a professor of environmental science at Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts, said that freeze-thaw erosion likely created the peak’s pyramidal shape, according to Live Science. As water seeps into cracks of the rocks and freezes, it expands, eventually causing the rock to chip off the mountain, which can create the smooth faces.

A pyramidal peak such as this is a natural phenomenon that occurs when “freeze thaw weathers the top of the mountain, creating a sharply pointed summit,” according to BBC News. One of the faces of the Matterhorn in Switzerland is an example of how freeze-and-thaw erosion can smooth the side of a mountain.

TOPSHOT - Hikers walk in front with the Matterhorn mountain in background above the resort of Zermatt as heatwave sweeps across Europe on August 8, 2020. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Hikers walk in front with the Matterhorn mountain in background above the resort of Zermatt as heatwave sweeps across Europe on Aug. 8, 2020. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Antarctica is the highest continent due to its thick ice sheets, according to Britannica, with an average elevation above sea level of about 2,000 meters. As far as mountains go, the pyramid-shaped peak in Antartica is relatively short, only 4,150 feet tall, according to CBS News. Despite being a small mountain, the Antarctic mountain in question is still nearly 10 times larger than The Great Pyramid of Giza, which was only 481.4 feet tall at its original height, according to Britannica.

The highest mountain in Antarctica is Mt. Vinson, which stands at 4,892 meters tall and is part of the same Ellsworth mountain range, per Discovering Antarctica.

Bradley Devlin

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