Russians extract sample from ancient subsurface lake after 23-year effort

By on January 16, 2013
A cross-section of Lake Vostok (Credit: National Science Foundation)

Scientists successfully withdrew a water sample from an ancient Russian lake buried under more than two miles of ice, according to an article in Russia’s RiaNovosti.

Lake Vostok is an underground, 1,300-cubic-mile volume of liquid water dating back nearly 20 million years, according to a Scientific American article by Caleb Scharf.

Scharf reports that the lake may have been sealed from the outside world for 100,000 years. It took 23 of those years for Russian scientists to successfully extract a pure sample.

They did so by boring a hole down to the lake  last February. Positive pressure on the lake from the ground above forced water into the borehole, where it froze. Scientists then extracted a frozen core sample.

Image: A cross-section of Lake Vostok (Credit: National Science Foundation)

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