Saturday, 12 February 2011

Russian team drilling to largest Antarctic lake

Lake Vostok
Russians are drilling 4 km down to a lake in Antarctica. They have pulled out for the winter but only have a few metres to go. Apparently there is enough geothermal activity below the lake to maintain liquid water at little below 0 °C. The ice above is somewhat insulating making the lake conditions seem positively tropical compared to the surface.
With the rapid onset of winter, scientists will be forced to leave on the last flight out for this season, on Feb 6.

"It's minus 40 (Celsius) outside," Turkeyev said. "But whatever, we're working. We're feeling good. There's only 5 meters left until we get to the lake so it'll all be very soon."
Antarctica: location of Lake Vostok
Though even –40 °C is to be preferred to –90 °C.

Lake Vostok is the largest known lake in Antarctica at 150 km × 50 km and estimated to be more than 900 m deep. Though pitch black it is thought to contain high quantities of oxygen, thus may host a variety of organisms. It is proposed to be a fresh water lake.

1 comment:

  1. I've been in contact with the team drilling into Lake Elsworth. Facinating stuff!

    Sounds like the Russians are only interested in busting through to the lake which I thought might be quite explosive, but the British team are trying hard to not contaminate the lake water.

    I don't think there will be much of interest in the water, but I've got a sneaking suspicion there could be a few interesting things on and under the lake floor.

    ReplyDelete

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