| ||Whether a mere trickle of water or a real river, glacial rills are found on all sorts of glaciers. The most significant ones are found on ice sheets. Unlike pack ice, which floats on the sea, ice sheets are a continental mass resting on a land base. In Greenland, the ice sheet has a surface area of nearly 2.8 million ft2 (260,128 m2) and can be more than 10,000 ft (3,048 m) thick. A vestige of the great ice ages that molded our planet, the Greenland ice sheet holds part of Earth’s memory trapped under billions of tons of ice; the deepest beds are more than 250,000 years old. None of the island’s 57,000 inhabitants live on the ice sheet. The towns and villages are built along the rocky coasts covered in sparse vegetation, the tundra, which grows when the snows begin to melt. Under Danish rule for nearly 300 years, 75.5 percent of Greenlanders voted in favor of their territory’s autonomy in November 2008. According to American scientists’ estimates, the region holds important oil reserves, and global warming could facilitate prospecting and exploitation of its mining resources. The subsoil, the future economic backbone of an independent Greenland, will inevitably be of interest to major powers in the years to come.
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