Study: Iron-rich meteorites lie deep in Antarctica's ice

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Study: Iron-Rich Meteorites Lie Deep In Antarctica's Ice

Antarctica is a rich area for meteorites, but one type has been under-represented, and a group of scientists from the University of Manchester believes they know why.

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A recent study has found that relatively fewer meteorites containing iron have been found on the continent because sunlight warms them and causes them to sink deeper in the ice.

Despite the lower depths, the team believes that these specimens are only about 4 to 20 inches below the surface which allows for the possibility of retrieval.

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Study: Iron-rich meteorites lie deep in Antarctica's ice
TOPSHOT - A photographer looks at the sky at night to see the annual Geminid meteor shower on the Elva Hill, in Maira Valley, near Cuneo, northern Italy on December 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, Dec. 15, 2015-- A meteor streaks across the sky during the Geminid meteor shower over Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 15, 2015. (Xinhua/Shao Ying via Getty Images)
CORRECTION This long-exposure photograph taken on April 23, 2015 on Earth Day shows Lyrids meteors shower passing near the Milky Way in the clear night sky of Thanlyin, nearly 14miles away from Yangon. AFP PHOTO / Ye Aung Thu (Photo credit should read Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)
A multiple exposure picture taken in the early hours of August 12, 2014 shows a Perseids meteor shower in the night sky from the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Madrid near the municipality of Valle del Lozoya. The perseid meteor shower occurs every year in August when the Earth passes through the debris and dust of the Swift-Tuttle comet. AFP PHOTO / DANI POZO (Photo credit should read DANI POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
This long-exposure photograph taken on August 12, 2013 shows the Milky Way in the clear night sky near Yangon. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year in August when the Earth passes through the debris and dust of the Swift-Tuttle comet. AFP PHOTO / Ye Aung Thu (Photo credit should read Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)
A multiple exposure picture taken in the early hours of August 11, 2013 shows a Perseids meteor shower in the sky, near the municipality of La Hiruela, on the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Madrid. AFP PHOTO / DANI POZO (Photo credit should read DANI POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
CATHEDRAL GORGE STATE PARK, NV - AUGUST 12: Perseid meteors streak across the sky on August 12, 2013 in Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada. The annual display, known as the Perseid shower because the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, is a result of Earth's orbit passing through debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
HOLMES CHAPEL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 13: A Perseid meteor (R) streaks across the sky past the light trail of an aircraft over the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank on August 13, 2013 in Holmes Chapel, United Kingdom.The annual display, known as the Perseid shower because the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, is a result of Earth's orbit passing through debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
This long-exposure photograph taken on August 12, 2013 shows people watching for the Perseid meteor shower in the night sky near Yangon. The meteor shower occurs every year in August when the Earth passes through the debris and dust of the Swift-Tuttle comet. AFP PHOTO / Ye Aung Thu (Photo credit should read Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)
A long exposure image showing a Perseids meteor (L) streaking across the night sky over St. Ioan medieval church near the village of Potsurnentsi, late on August 12, 2013. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year in August when the Earth passes through the debris and dust of the Swift-Tuttle comet. AFP PHOTO / Dimitar DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NV - DECEMBER 14: A Geminid meteor streaks between peaks of the Seven Sisters rock formation early December 14, 2010 in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. The meteor display, known as the Geminid meteor shower because it appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini, is thought to be the result of debris cast off from an asteroid-like object called 3200 Phaethon. The shower is visible every December. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A meteor (L) from the Geminids meteor shower enters the Earth's atmosphere past the stars Castor and Pollux (two bright stars, R) on December 12, 2009 above Southold, New York. This meteor shower gets the name 'Geminids' because it appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini. Geminids are pieces of debris from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon. Earth runs into a stream of debris from the object every year in mid-December, causing the meteors. The peak of the shower is expected the night of December 13-14 at about 0500 GMT on December 14. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Perseids meteor shower is seen in the sky in the early hours of August 12, 2008 near the town of Sofia. The night between 12 August and 13 August is expected to be the peak of the Perseids meteor shower over the eastern sky, a meteor shower which comes every year, beginning in late July and stretching into August. AFP PHOTO / BORYANA KATSAROVA (Photo credit should read BORYANA KATSAROVA/AFP/Getty Images)
Perseid Meteor Shower, 2011 (NASA, Marshall, 8/09/11)
Perseid Meteors Streak Through Late-Summer Skies (NASA, August, 2010)
Fellhorn III (perseids meteor shower)
IRAN - SEPTEMBER 07: A bright meteor appears near bright Star Sirius during the Gemenis Meteor Shower in December, as recorded from Zagros Mountains of Iran. (Photo by Babek Tafreshi/SSPL/Getty Images)
The Andromedes, a shower of meteors observed at Boston, USA, November 1872. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
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This determination was made by placing metallic and non-metallic meteorite samples in ice then measuring their descent rate when heated by a lamp acting as the sun.

Subsequent modelling, according to the study, indicated that, "...meteorites with a high-enough thermal conductivity (for example, iron meteorites) can sink at a rate sufficient to offset the total annual upward ice transport..."

The flow of ice typically causes these dark materials, which have been buried for centuries, to emerge visibly in areas known as Meteorite Stranding Zones, or MSZs.

Scientists have worked in MSZs since the 1970s to collect specimens for research.

Each piece is believed to provide additional insights about the solar system.

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