Three major Sub-glacial lake drill areas: Vostok, Whillans and Ellsworth.
Vostok Science Station.
courtesy The Antarctic Sun, SOURCE
Lake Vostok. NASA: "The extent of the sub-glacier lake is shown by a region of extremely low relief in the ice surace. The lake is sustained by a combination of geothermal heat and the insulating properties of the polar ice sheet."
courtesy NASA Earth Data, SOURCE
Russians obtained first lake ice sample at Vostok

Posted: Jan 12, 2013 04:25 pm EST
(Newsdesk) The Russian ice drilling project at Sub-Glacial Lake Vostok on Antarctica has succeeded to collect an ice sample from the 20 million year old lake at a depth of 3,406 meters.

The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, part of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, said in a statement, "The first core of transparent lake ice, 2 meters long, was obtained on January 10 at a depth of 3,406 meters. Inside it was a vertical channel filled with white bubble-rich ice,” reported the Russian news source RIA Novosti.

The ice formed as the water from the lake rose up into the whole due to under-pressure in the crack researchers drilled in last February, reported

“Initially, we saw completely unknown to us ice – an opaque, porous, bright white,” explained Vyacheslav Martianov, the deputy head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition. “But 20 meters after that we saw transparent ice, with the white ice frozen inside of it.”

This ice may have very specific physical properties that are different from ordinary ice and anything ever known before, Martianov said.

Video below about 2012 break-through at Lake Vostok:

The Lost World Of Lake Vostok 1/4 (SK / Slovenske titulky):

Lake Vostok is 160 miles (250 kilometers) long and 30 miles (50 km) across at its widest point, similar in area to Lake Ontario. It's kept from freezing into a solid block by the mammoth crust of ice across it that acts like a blanket, keeping in heat generated by geothermal energy underneath.

Temperatures on the Vostok Station on the surface above have registered the coldest ever recorded on Earth, reaching minus 89 degrees Celsius (minus 128 degrees Fahrenheit), and conditions were made even tougher by its high elevation, more than 11,000 feet (3,300 meters) above sea level, resulting in thin oxygen.

The effort, however, has drawn strong fears that lubricants and antifreeze used in the drilling may contaminate the pristine lake.

The Americans are drilling project at Sub-glacial Lake Whillans west of the South Pole as part of the WISSARD project (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling.) Lake Whillans is about 60 square kilometers but only about 10 meters deep. This lake is part of several lakes in the Whillans Ice Stream near the Ross Ice Shelf.

The British drilling at Sub-glacial Lake Ellsworth has been called off at the end of December. "Drilling stopped after the team was unable to form properly the water-filled cavity 300 meters beneath the ice. This cavity was to link the main borehole with a secondary borehole used to recirculate drilling water back to the surface." The Americans and Brits use hot water to drill. Seismic studies reveal that this long narrow lake is approximately 150m deep and covers an area of 29 km2


Russians reached Lake Vostok nearly 4000 meters under Antarctic ice

Lake Vostok at Wikipidea

The Antarctic Sun about the lake drilling

WISSARD: Our Russian Colleague - Irina

#Science #Oceans #Polar