Scientists Hunt for Life in Buried Antarctic Lake

They're hoping pristine ancient habitat could hold life
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2011 1:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – A team of British scientists begins a trek to Antarctica this week for an expedition that hopes to discover new life forms lurking in a lake that’s been untouched for a million years. The lake is buried under about two miles of ice, but its water is still liquid thanks to the immense pressure of the weight above it and a bit of geothermal heat beneath it, the Independent explains.

Scientists believe there may still be microbial life such as bacteria and fungi lurking in those cold dark waters, so they’ve brought 70 tons of drilling equipment, which will carefully dig down and collect samples. “This is a pristine environment, and we don’t want to disturb it,” the principal investigator explained. The study may have climate science implications as well; samples of the lake bed sediment could give insights into how and when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted and reformed.

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