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A group of Russian scientists in Antarctica has succeeded in drilling to a lake buried two miles beneath the icy landmass, Russian news service Ria Novosti reported -- following a week of radio silence from the team that had some scratching their heads.
“Yesterday, our scientists stopped drilling at the depth of 3,768 meters and reached the surface of the sub-glacial lake,” the source reportedly said in a story posted Monday, Feb. 6.
The team from Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) had been drilling for weeks in an effort to reach isolated Lake Vostok, a vast, dark body of water hidden 13,000 ft. below the ice sheet's surface. The lake hasn't been exposed to air in more than 20 million years.
A brief break in communication with colleagues in the unfrozen world had some asking questions about the scientists, as Antarctica’s killing winter draws near. But despite the lack of info and onset of winter, which brings temperatures as low as -80 F or colder, the team was never in danger, Priscu said.
"They are very capable scientists and drillers and the thought never entered my mind that they are in any kind of danger," Dr John Priscu told FoxNews.com.
Priscu, a microbiologist with Montana State University who has worked on a similar Antarctic exploration program, is one of few sources of information on the scientists. They hope Vostok and other subglacial lakes buried beneath the continent may offer a glimpse of extreme new forms of life.
The buried lake may be similar to the conditions on Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa, Ria Novosti said.
If some primitive bacteria or even more complex life-forms are found to have survived the isolation, it could offer an earth-shattering insight into our planet’s past.
When drilling work began around Vostok Station in the Antarctic in the 1970s, scientists had no idea a mysterious lake lay under the massive ice sheet. It was only in 1996 that Russian specialists, supported by their British counterparts, discovered with sonar and satellite imaging what later proved to be one of the world’s largest freshwater reservoirs. In size, Lake Vostok matches Lake Ontario.
After the 24-hour-a-day drilling work is over, scientists are to take samples of lake water which penetrates through the crack. Specialists at the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute predict they will find “the only giant super-clean water system on the planet.” The pristine water will be “twice cleaner than double-distilled water,” they believe.
The Vostok Antarctic research station is no Bali resort. Its temperatures average around –66 degrees Centigrade. Earth’s the lowest ever temperature was recorded there on July 21, 1983, when it hit –89.2 C.
Originally posted by KillShotMi
reply to post by PhoenixOD
Naaa, I steel shaft straight down with an elevator would do the trick. Container style labs at lake level. Wouldnt be such a bad place to have a ELE event hiding spot eh?
Originally posted by Asktheanimals
I'm wondering how much of this is about science vs a giant reservoir of clean water.
At the current rate of pollution clean water may become more valuable than gold at some point.
Watching Fukushima that time may be closer than I'd like to believe.
Originally posted by KillShotMi
reply to post by AGWskeptic
I could give a rats behind about the life forms.. I am skeptical of anything worth viewing as far as life forms go.
I am going to assume with little proof that Antarctica was once tropical. This lake and its borders would be a very VERY good place to find some of the original traces of life.
Take North America... There could have been cities like we have now..(millions of years ago). But over time, concrete and nearly all metals would have turned back into earth. Below that ice, things will be preserved like it was yesterday.
Originally posted by Jakessw
Sweet! I can't wait to hear nothing about what they find down there...