Lebanon Reporter

Features

December 13, 2012

Team probes for life in lake beneath 2 miles of Antarctic ice

LONDON — British scientists were to start drilling Wednesday in Antarctica in their quest to discover whether life exists in a lake that's been isolated for hundreds of thousands of years 3 kilometers (2 miles) below the ice.

The researchers will use a drill that pumps hot water at high pressure to bore through the ice. After firing the boiler's burners yesterday, they'll begin test drills before drilling down to the lake by Sunday, said Chris Hill, program manager at the British Antarctic Survey for the project at Lake Ellsworth, near the center of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

"Since that boiler fired up, the mood's been pretty good," Hill said Tuesday in a satellite phone interview from the drilling site. "We have to wait on this like expectant fathers."

The 8-million-pound ($13 million) plan is the culmination of 16 years of planning. Researchers aim to recover water and sediment samples from the lake to determine whether life exists there and shed clues on the past climate of Antarctica.

"The most likely organisms to be found will be bacterial — they're everywhere," David Pearce, a microbiologist at the program said in an interview in October, shortly before heading to the southern continent to begin preparations. "If there's nothing there, that will tell us the limits for the existence of life on Earth."

After testing the drill works, the researchers plan to bore down 300 meters where they'll create a water-filled cavity to help balance the water pressure between the lake and the borehole. Then, they plan to make a separate hole from the top, through the cavity and down to the lake.

Once the drill is removed, Hill said "the clock starts ticking" and the researchers have just 24 to 30 hours to recover samples before the hole refreezes and becomes too narrow to safely lower instruments.

Text Only
Features

Featured items
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide