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British Scientists To Explore Lost Antarctic Lake, Lake Ellsworth

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posted on Dec, 8 2012 @ 05:36 AM
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British scientists are making final preparations to drill 3km through the Antarctic ice to a lake that has been cut off from the rest of the world for up to half a million years.

The 12-man team hopes to find lifeforms in Lake Ellsworth that have evolved in isolation to withstand the cold, lack of nutrients and total darkness.

Early next week they will begin melting a 36-cm wide borehole through the ice using a unique hot-water drill.

Pumping 90,000 litres of water at high pressure through a continuous 3.5km hose should allow them to break through to the lake in three or four days.
Will this turn out like lake Voltov (sorry if misspelled) where it all went silent after they breached the lake.
i'll be looking out for what they find down there.


en.wikipedia.org...
www.guardian.co.uk...
www.bbc.co.uk...



Lake Ellsworth Ice Mission Q&A Updated: 7:42am UK, Saturday 08 December 2012 As the scientists prepare to start drilling, Sky's Thomas Moore answers the key questions about the project. Where is Lake Ellsworth? The lake is under the West Antarctic ice sheet, 70km west of the Ellsworth Mountains. Seismic studies suggest it is approximately 150m deep and is roughly the same size as Windermere. There are over 360 sub-glacial lakes known to exist below Antarctica's vast ice sheet.


How remote is it? The team has travelled 16,000km to reach Lake Ellsworth, flying first to the southern tip of Chile and then on to the drilling site in a smaller aircraft that is able to land on ice. In all, the flight time was five days. Equipment was air-freighted to a runway on the Union Glacier and then hauled by tractor train 280km through the Ellsworth mountain range. What are living conditions like? The team will spend six weeks at the camp. Outside the wind-chill can dip to minus 70 degrees Celsius. They will sleep in four-man clam tents. In the 24-hour daylight of the Antarctic summer, temperatures inside are generally between four and 20 degrees. A larger tent serves as a kitchen, dining area and office. A chef provides freshly-cooked food - even bread.

How will the engineers drill through the ice? The team had to design a sophisticated hot-water drilling rig that could bore through the ice without contaminating the pristine waters of the lake. Around 90,000 litres of water will be heated to 90 degrees Celsius by a 1.5 MW boiler and pumped at high pressure through a 3.2km continuous hose that has been made to support its own weight and the heavy drill head. The drill should melt a 36cm borehole through the 3km of ice in around 100 hours. Once drilling starts there is no turning back - the water in the hose would quickly freeze.

And then? Once they breakthrough into the lake, scientists will drop down a titanium probe to sample the water at various depths. Built by the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, it contains 3,000 individual components. Then they will use a highly specialised sediment corer to take a 3m column of the lake-bed. The equipment has been sterilised to space-industry standards using hydrogen peroxide vapour to prevent surface microbes contaminating the lake. All this has to be done within 24 hours or the borehole will be too narrow to retrieve the samples

Won't the scientists risk a geyser when they drill through to the lake? Millions of tonnes of ice are pressing down on the lake. But the engineers have a plan to stop the water bursting back up to the surface when they breakthrough. The first borehole will stop at 300m, where they will create a cavity. A second borehole will go through the cavity down to the lake. The cavity controls the pressure of the water.



What if they do find life?

The scientists say that, too, would be significant. It would show there is a limit at which no life can exist on our planet.

But they are confident they will find microbes - wherever else there is water on Earth there is life.

And that would encourage scientists who believe there may be life in the seas below the icy crust of Jupiter's moon Europa.
edit on 8-12-2012 by haven123 because: (no reason given)
edit on 8-12-2012 by haven123 because: (no reason given)
edit on 8-12-2012 by haven123 because: (no reason given)
edit on 8-12-2012 by haven123 because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 8 2012 @ 05:56 AM
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Cool I just hope it doesn't turn out like this....





I wish I tried harder at school because I would have loved to go to to Antarctica, I even left my cv on the UK arctic survey team just in case they need a cook


On another note I would love to have a glass of that ice cold water



posted on Dec, 8 2012 @ 05:59 AM
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On Sky News report they said that if the ice cap on the lake were to melt and fall in, the resulting escape of water would add 2 to 3 meters to the world sea level.

I cannot think how that would be possible, sounds just more incredulous bs scaremongering by msm.



posted on Dec, 8 2012 @ 06:00 AM
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Sounds interesting
I always wonered what happened to the other one ( the russian one ), it seemed to have been hyped a lot just to suddenly go dead quiet ... If I didn't know better I would assume some conspiracy
... Never the less this is great news and I hope this time we get some more info



posted on Dec, 8 2012 @ 06:02 AM
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reply to post by bigyin
 


i seen that on the news to
but its if the entire region they are in were to collapse very unlikely its been there millions of years,they will be checking if it has ever slipped before resulting/matching up with ancient sea level rises of the same or similar levels..
edit on 8-12-2012 by haven123 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 12:06 PM
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Originally posted by Thill
Sounds interesting
I always wonered what happened to the other one ( the russian one ), it seemed to have been hyped a lot just to suddenly go dead quiet ... If I didn't know better I would assume some conspiracy
... Never the less this is great news and I hope this time we get some more info


Apparently there was no life found in the Lake Vostok samples (the Russian drill site)

news.discovery.com...

Hmmm, when I actually read it, sounds like they did find microbes not not many. And they weren't necessarily clean samples. So sounds like it is still open for investigation but the MSM makes it sound as though this is an end all be all based on the title. I fell for it! Then once you read it you can see there are still possibilities!
edit on 11-12-2012 by OpenMindedMommy because: (no reason given)






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