Report

More Than 200 Meters of Lake Ice Above Subglacial Lake Vostok, Antarctica

Science  10 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5447, pp. 2138-2141
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5447.2138

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Abstract

Isotope studies show that the Vostok ice core consists of ice refrozen from Lake Vostok water, from 3539 meters below the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet to its bottom at about 3750 meters. Additional evidence comes from the total gas content, crystal size, and electrical conductivity of the ice. The Vostok site is a likely place for water freezing at the lake-ice interface, because this interface occurs at a higher level here than anywhere else above the lake. Isotopic data suggest that subglacial Lake Vostok is an open system with an efficient circulation of water that was formed during periods that were slightly warmer than those of the past 420,000 years. Lake ice recovered by deep drilling is of interest for preliminary investigations of lake chemistry and bedrock properties and for the search for indigenous lake microorganisms. This latter aspect is of potential importance for the exploration of icy planets and moons.

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