20 Million Year Old Lake, Buried Under 2 Miles of Ice
Russian scientists are close to drilling into the lake that is around 20 million years old. Until now it has been hidden under ice in the Antarctic. The lake was only discovered in 1990 when sonar and satellite imagining was used although it was suspected of being there back in the 1900.
The race is on now to reach the lake which is 2 miles under the ice as the arctic summer draws to an end the scientists will have to pull out, tempatures at the drill site have already reached -66c and if they don’t make it they will not be able to return until December.
Last year the work on the site came to between 10 and 50 metres of the surface, at the moment they are working 24 hours a day in 3 shifts and think they are about 40ft from the waterline.
There has been some international criticism for the methods used. There is fear that bacteria and the fluids used in drilling could contaminate the water, so to make sure the machinery will not touch the lake, instead suction will be used to draw the water into the borehole where it will freeze before being brought up for analysis.
The other risks are from trapped oxygen and nitrogen which could cause an explosion so they are trying to minimise the amount of air that is released to avoid the problem.
Lake Vostok is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world matching the size of Lake Ontario; specialists at The Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute think it is the only super-clean water system on the planet, they think it is twice as clean as double-distilled water.