Suspended British mission to penetrate a hidden lake under the ice in Antarctica
The idea was to reach the lake sediments Ellsworth, which is buried under two miles of Antarctic ice, looking for life forms that could survive in an environment as remote and extreme. Also expected to find seashells, which could help determine when was the last time the ice broke up, and understand what is the risk that this could happen again by climate change.
The British are not the only ones trying to get to the bottom of a lake under the Antarctic ice. A U.S. team expects to begin drilling the Lake Whillans between January and February 2013, while Russia has dug 3,769 meters of ice to reach Lake Vostok and sampling.
The project was suspended after British scientists tried for 20 hours to connect two holes in the ice that were necessary for the operation of the hot water drill. Due to the extra time it took this operation – which ultimately was not achieved – fuel reserves were reduced to such a level that was no longer viable to move on.
Scientists said it would take “a season or two” teams get back to the UK for adjustments, and then the same time to bring them back to Antarctica, so the delay could mean four or five years.
Link: Britain suspends exploratory drilling of Antarctic lake (Reuters)Tags: Antarctica, Ice, lake, Russia, U.S., United Kingdom