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Volcanoes saw species survive ice ages: study

Published on Mar 11, 2014 2:52 PM
An undated handout photo obtained on March 11, 2014, taken by Peter Convey of the British Antarctic Survey and provided by the Australian National University media office, shows steam rising from a fumarole, surrounded by mosses and other lifeforms in Antarctica. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - The steam and heat from volcanoes allowed species of plants and animals to survive past ice ages, a study showed on Tuesday, offering help for scientists dealing with climate change.

An international team of researchers said their analysis helped explain a long-running mystery about how some species thrived, often in isolation, in areas covered by glaciers, with volcanoes acting as an oasis of life during long cold periods.

"Volcanic steam can melt large ice caves under the glaciers, and it can be tens of degrees warmer in there than outside," said Ceridwen Fraser, the joint team leader from the Australian National University.

"Caves and warm steam fields would have been great places for species to hang out during ice ages.

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