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Huge Lake Under Antarctic Ice Discovered

The Antarctic ice holds innumerable secrets in its midst. This idea has been proven yet again by a new research. The findings have been presented at the annual meeting of the European Geophysical Union (EGU) in Vienna earlier this month.

The Beardmore Glacier was Robert Scott's route to the South Pole. During that trip he discovered the rich fossil record hidden in the outcrops of rock. Since then paleontologists have come to the Beardmore Glacier to collect fossils, as they were doing when this December 2003 photo was taken.

Antarctica, more than just ice. Photo credits: Via http://lima.nasa.gov/.

A lake has recently been discovered underneath the ice, reports New Scientist.

This is nothing new to researchers, as liquid freshwater lakes have been spotted under the ice before, of which Lake Vostok is the most famous one having captivated the attention of scientists worldwide. The newly-found one constitutes an important discovery given its massive size, and the abundant geological treasure it is hoped to reveal.

The new lake which might possibly be ribbon-shaped is extremely huge (100 kilometers (km) in length, and 10 km in width), and is ranked second in size to Lake Vostok. Scientists are positive that they will now be able to have more opportunities to study organisms living in a subglacial environment.

The existence of the lake was indicated by geographic features found beneath the ice found at the surface. This ice is influenced by the rocks under it, and examining the latter allows scientists to understand what exists underneath. When the team of researchers spotted grooves at the surface, they used ground-penetrating radar to find out the secrets under the ice. That was how they found the lake.

The lake is probably linked with the canyon, say the researchers. Furthermore, the channels emanating from it might be leading water to the West Ice Shelf and into the sea.

The existence of the lake and its channels will soon be confirmed when researchers from the US, China, and the UK who have been conducting independent works get together to discuss their data.

If this is confirmed, biologists are expected to show interest in the lake, and might hopefully unveil the workings of the ecosystem (if any) that has remained beyond our eyes for millions of years. This would definitely be exciting– we might even have new species identified.


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