A Moment of Science

14 Million Years Old And Sealed Off From The World… Until Now

Russian scientists are eagerly waiting to explore Lake Vostok in Antarctica.

A look at Lake Vostok's ice sheet

Photo: National Science Foundation (flickr)

Here you can see what scientists are up against. Lake Vostok has remained untouched for millions of years.

Can you imagine that something on this earth has never been explored? It’s true.

Lake Vostok in Antarctia has never been explored and is over 14 million years old. The lake is not connected to any other lakes and scientists are curious to see what they find.

Lake Vostok’s Failed Exploration

Sealed off by a sheet of ice, Lake Vostok is about 250 kilometers long, 50 kilometers wide and about 800 meters deep.

This is not the first time scientists attempted to explore the lake. In 2003, scientists wanted to drill through the ice sheet to get samples from the lake. However, NASA concluded that the lake would become contaminated. This contamination could possibly cause the water to “fizz” like a soda can making samples collected inaccurate.

Second Attempt

After some more research and consideration, scientists from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in St. Petersburg will be conducting new tests. Lake Vostok is important to explore because it contains a high level of oxygen. In fact, the lake has over 50 times more oxygen than the average lake.

Lake Vostok is also a great place to search for new organisms. Organisms that survive in very oxygen-rich environments could warrant research on planets that have similar conditions.

The crew of scientists are able to drill around four meters a day and hope to reach the water before the current Antarctic summer season ends.

Read More:

  • Russians hope to reach Lake Vostok for the first time soon (PhysOrg)
Margaret Aprison

Margaret is a graduate of Indiana University with a degree in Telecommunications and a minor in Psychology. The daughter of two scientists, Margaret has been surrounded by the subject her entire life. She enjoys social media, writing, television, and, of course, science!

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