Antarctic Lake Holds Life—Under 50 Feet of Ice

Long-buried lake teeming with bacteria

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 28, 2012 2:48 AM CST

(Newser) – Hopes of finding life elsewhere in our solar system have been boosted by a find in one of the least hospitable places on the planet. Researchers who drilled into Lake Vida, a salty lake buried under a 50-foot-thick sheet of ice in Antarctica, have found that its oxygen-depleted water is teeming with microbial life despite having been completely sealed off for 2,800 years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Researchers believe the lake's energy is being regularly replenished, possibly from chemical reactions, despite the lack of external sources. "By seeing what the boundaries of life are on Earth, that helps us when we go out and look for examples elsewhere," one of the researchers says. "Years ago, we never would have thought to look for life in the sub-surface of Mars, and now we have examples on Earth that things can live down there."

The lake has been sealed off by Antarctic ice for thousands of years.
The lake has been sealed off by Antarctic ice for thousands of years.   (AP Photo/Robin E. Bell--Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, New York)
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