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article image15-Million Year-Old lake found in Antarctica

By Chris V. Thangham     Jan 20, 2009 in Environment
Scientists have found an isolated lake located beneath two miles of ice in East Antarctica and believe it may have remained undisturbed from other areas for more than 15 million years.
Researchers believe that life forms may be present in a newly discovered Lake Vostok in East Antarctica. It is isolated from the rest of the area and is located about four kilometers below the surface and is approximately 250 km long and 50 km wide.
Scientists believe that Lake Vostok may have been isolated from the remaining areas for as long as 15 million years based on the surrounding ice records.
NASA plans to send researchers and hope to see new life forms in that area because of the extreme isolation from the surrounding region. They want to know how the bacteria present in the lake were able to survive without sun’s heat and how they were able to live in extremely cold temperatures.
They want to investigate the Lake and the species living in it without contaminating it.
Researchers from United States, Russian Federation and France took some samples after drilling an 11,866-foot ice core in 1998. The core was taken from a depth of two miles below the surface of Antarctica and 656 feet above the surface of the lake. The samples are stored at -35 degree Celsius at the National Ice Core Laboratory, Denver, Colorado.
Lanoil, the principal investigator of the research project told AFP.
After nearly a year of preparation and verifying protocols, we are now ready to process the samples, and will examine the DNA of these microorganisms to understand how they survived in such an extreme environment.
More about Antarctica, Lake, Million years
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