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Russian Team Prepares To Penetrate Lake Vostok 237

Lanxon writes "Lake Vostok, which has been sealed off from the world for 14 million years, is about to be penetrated by a Russian drill bit. The lake, which lies four kilometers below the icy surface of Antarctica, is unique in that it's been completely isolated from the other 150 subglacial lakes on the continent for such a long time. It's also oligotropic, meaning that it's supersaturated with oxygen — levels of the element are 50 times higher than those found in most typical freshwater lakes."
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Russian Team Prepares To Penetrate Lake Vostok

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  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:19PM (#34795726) Homepage Journal

    I hope for new life forms and new genomes for us, bioinformaticians.

    The more I learn about the way the phenotype is coded in the genome, the more in awe of the creation I am.

    Subhana Allah

  • Let's assume I made (all of) the obvious joke(s) about "penetrate" so we can get that out of the way.

    Finding creatures sealed off for 14 million years below 4km of ice would be pretty cool. I wonder what else is under the Antarctic ice? Was the continent ever tropical/non-icy? Might we find fossils of new species, assuming there was some way to get down there?

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:23PM (#34795808)

    They'll dig up a strange UFO with some doppleganger virus that causes the whole crew to kill each other.

    • by ergean ( 582285 )

      Nahhh... we should check if Weyland Industries has anything to do with this.

    • Or they will find diamonds then some enterprising mercenary and a doctor will kill everyone they can and hide the diamonds inside the corpses only to be found out by a very attractive FBI woman.

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:26PM (#34795850) Homepage

    In Soviet Antarctica, buried lake penetrates drill hole!

    Seriously. RTFA.

  • Earlier reports had them buying drinks for the lake and complimenting it's clarity.

  • by sunking2 ( 521698 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:30PM (#34795918)
    Release the Piranha!
    • if I may paraphrase Pink Floyd:

      Don't be surprised when a Krakken The Ice
      Appears under your feet...
      You slip out of your depths
      And out of your mind
      With the Krakken close behind you
      As you drill the thin ice!

  • by santax ( 1541065 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:31PM (#34795938)
    I am so utterly disappointed by the article.
  • by Stregano ( 1285764 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:31PM (#34795940)
    Isn't this how the movie Alien vs Predator started?
  • Obligatory... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

    A Colder War []

  • and here I was worried about peak oxygen!
  • How do they know what the oxygen concentration is if they haven't drilled into it yet?
  • That is not dead which can eternal lie.
    And with strange aeons even death may die.

  • by figleaf ( 672550 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:45PM (#34796142) Homepage

    It just means an environment which is low in nutrients.

    The lake just happens to have high oxygen levels because of high pressure from the layers of ice - that doesn't make it oligotrophic.

  • not quite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:49PM (#34796202) Journal

    It's also oligotropic, meaning that it's supersaturated with oxygen

    No, it means that the lake has very few nutrients and is therefore not terribly productive biologically. see here []. Many lakes that fall into the oligotropic chategory are also Oxygenated but it is not why they are oligotropic.
    The real question I have is where that Oxygen is coming from. There probably isn't much photosynthesis going on at that depth which means either Oxygen is being imported to the system, it isn't being consumed very rapidly or it's being generated somehow.

  • by spopepro ( 1302967 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @04:50PM (#34796218)

    Cool to see they have a plan for getting info without causing harm. Hopefully it all works well.

    The researchers involved on site have my respect. Here's some info about where they work:
    Ave. winter temp: -65C, ave. summer temp: -30C
    Altitude: 3488m
    Record low temp: -89C. Good thing they are at altitude, as CO2 freezing point is -78C at 1atm.
    Polar night for 130 days.

    I like science... but I don't like science that much.

  • Well this is a completely uncharted lake with like hitherto unclassified marine life man, so the whole scene's wide open for a scientific exploration. The real hang-up was with the bread man but when the top brass pigs came through we got it together in a couple of moons. Commodore Betty Grable, who's a real sub-aqua head, has got together diving wise and like the whole gig's been a real gas man. []

    Bloody sharks.

  • by gklinger ( 571901 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @05:05PM (#34796460)
    This will inevitably lead to a new brand of vodka advertised as being made with "14 million year old, subglacial, super-oxygenated water".
  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @05:06PM (#34796476) Journal

    ...the beginning of a Twilight Zone episode.

  • Bottle it! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PeterChenoweth ( 603694 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @05:51PM (#34797238)
    I wonder if Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or some Russian bottling company has thought of trying to acquire the rights to bottle water from the lake. It's Antarctica, so it's legally & technically challenging. But I can imagine quite a market for 14-million year-old bottled water. Seriously!
    • But I can imagine quite a market for 14-million year-old bottled water contaminated with plastic additives which leaked from the bottle and metals from the tanker who shipped it from the south pole, and detergents from the bottling plant and... Seriously!

      There, fixed that for ya..

  • Any wagers as to whether fish are in that lake and what they might look like?

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun