Russians About To Access 14 Million Year Old Antarctic Lake

This is a real science story. Nothing bad can come of accessing a lake that’s been sealed off below the ice for 14 million years, right? Right?

2.5 miles beneath the windblown surface of Antarctica sits a whole new world. A lake, closed off from the surface for 14 million years, is about to be accessed by a Russian crew, who have been drilling - off and on - since 1990.

The drill right now is just 328 feet above the lake. There’s a chance that they won’t get through before the Antarctic summer ends and the final feet will have to be broken through next year, but I’m being positive. While I’m also being cynical - Lake Vostok (as it’s called) must harbor a monster or a weird virus or some occult, Lovecraftian portal or something right? Please?

There have been a lot of problems drilling that far down, many of them environmental. Right now, though, the team has convinced the Powers That Be that they can sample the lake without contaminating it with the outside world. Apparently the idea is that the lake water will rush up through the drilled hole but freeze long before it gets to the surface, effectively capping the hole naturally.

The lake is hyperoxygenated, which means anything living in there - besides evolving on its own weird path for 14 million years - is adapted to extreme environments. Like we might find on other planets. Finding life in Vostok would go a long way towards the continued demolition of our preconceived notions of just what sort of environments life prefers.

But of course we all know exactly what kind of environments monsters prefer…

via Wired. Thanks to Mark Pilvinsky for the link.