Antarctic subglacial rivers are found

Apr 19, 2006

British scientists say plans are to drill beneath the frozen wastes of the Antarctic, to investigate subglacial lakes, are being reviewed.

A team led by University College London scientists has made a discovery that's stalling the research.

In a letter to the journal Nature, they report rivers the size of the Thames have been discovered moving water hundreds of miles under the ice. That finding challenges the widely held assumption the lakes evolved in isolated conditions over several million years and might support microbial life that evolved "independently."

UCL Professor Duncan Wingham, who led the team, said: "Previously, it was thought water moves underneath the ice by very slow seepage. But this new data shows that, every so often, the lakes beneath the ice pop off like champagne corks, releasing floods that travel very long distances.

"A major concern has been that by drilling down to the lakes new microbes would be introduced." he added. "Our data shows any contamination will not be limited to one lake, but will, over time, extend down the length of the network of rivers.

"We had thought of these lakes as isolated biological laboratories. Now we are going to have to think again."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: China to send orbiter to moon and back

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Under Rainier's crater, a natural laboratory like no other

Oct 03, 2014

Counting all the ups and downs, he had climbed more than 15,000 feet to get here - past yawning crevasses and over cliffs where a single misstep could send a rope team tumbling. His party was pummeled by a lightning storm ...

Cyanide ice in Titan's atmosphere

Oct 01, 2014

Gigantic polar clouds of hydrogen cyanide roughly four times the area of the UK are part of the impressive atmospheric diversity of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, a new study led by Leiden Observatory, ...

Recommended for you

China to send orbiter to moon and back

2 hours ago

China will launch its latest lunar orbiter in the coming days, state media said Wednesday, in its first attempt to send a spacecraft around the moon and back to Earth.

NASA Webb's heart survives deep freeze test

12 hours ago

After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and its sensitive instruments, ...

Cosmic rays threaten future deep-space astronaut missions

16 hours ago

Crewed missions to Mars remain an essential goal for NASA, but scientists are only now beginning to understand and characterize the radiation hazards that could make such ventures risky, concludes a new paper ...

Big black holes can block new stars

18 hours ago

Massive black holes spewing out radio-frequency-emitting particles at near-light speed can block formation of new stars in aging galaxies, a study has found.

User comments : 0