The Lake Vostok drilling

After years of scientific debates envelopes the appropriateness or not of puncture the Antarctic ice to the pristine Lake Vostok, a team of Russian scientists has achieved first sampling of water in the subglacial reservoir, the largest of the white continent. It is a block of transparent ice of two metres long which has brought to the surface from a depth of 3,406 kilometers, Science magazine reported citing the Russian Agency Rianovosti.

To avoid the risk of contamination of the Lake, problem that has agglutinated criticism of this project, Russian scientists devised a strategy: drill up to just the surface of the Lake (at 3.7 kilometers deep) and wait for freezing water that flows at high pressure through before the samples. In February last year they reached the Vostok and even took ice water, but they didn't know if it was the lake or deposits of the glacier that has above. The arrival of the Antarctic winter forced to stop work. Russian experts have now returned to drill and they have achieved, finally, draw a sample that are confident that is water ice from the Vostok, sealed from 20 million years ago.

The scientific interest of that sample resides in the possibility to find hitherto unknown microorganisms and investigate the physical properties of ice from that huge subglacial deposit.

Numerous specialists defended the Russian project at least until more advanced technologies developed to prevent the pollution of the Lake. Others, however support the Russian draft by his scientific interest. EE UU and the United Kingdom have drilling programmes in under Antarctic subglacial lakes.

Translated from the Original:

La Perforación del Lago Vostok

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