Pella Chronicle

Community News Network

December 13, 2012

Team probes for life in lake beneath 2 miles of Antarctic ice

(Continued)

LONDON —

First they'll lower a sterile ultraviolet lamp down to irradiate any life around the edges of the hole, Hill said in a briefing in October. Then, they'll send down a probe with 24 canisters to collect water samples from different depths.

Finally, a sediment corer will be dropped down to recover a length of sediment from the lake bed. By analyzing a column of sediment, scientists can tell whether the ice sheet has retreated in the past, because of the presence or not of fossilized marine organisms in the silt.

"We'll probably reach the lake around Sunday, retract the drill by Monday and start deploying the instruments late Monday or Tuesday," Hill said.

As soon as the first probe returns to the surface, researchers will be able to study some of the samples to gauge whether life was found, said Hill. The rest will be sent back by sea to Britain, where they'll arrive about May for study in laboratories across the country, with the first scientific papers likely by late 2013 or early 2014, he said.

If conditions allow, they'll re-drill the hole and lower a duplicate set of all the instruments down. Hill said that the five-day weather forecast predicts low winds and some cloud cover. Temperatures in the Antarctic summer are currently around minus 18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit), falling to minus 35 degrees with wind-chill, he said.

Lakes exist deep below the Antarctic surface because the pressure exerted by thousands of meters of ice drives down the freezing point of water. Lake Ellsworth is one of at least 387 known sub-glacial Antarctic lakes.

The drilling program is the culmination of an ambition dating back 16 years, when the project's principle scientist, Martin Siegert, a glaciologist now at the University of Edinburgh, began searching through radio echo-sounding data to uncover Antarctic lakes, according to Hill.

Text Only
Community News Network
Features
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Obituaries