Lake Vostok, which lies close to 4km below Antarctica‘s ice sheet, could be plenty of complex animals. A new study offers evidence that the Lake harbors its own unique ecosystem of life forms, despite being buried under the ice for the past 15 million years. Image © NASA
The scientists who have sifted genetic material in ice drilled from close to Vostok’s surface, found signatures for bacteria that are often associated with marine molluscs, crustaceans and even fish.
A cross-section of Lake Vostok shows how ice accumulates above the lake, and a list of some of the different organisms discovered in the ice core. Image © PLOS ONE
Lake Vostok the 7th largest (by volume) and 4th deepest lake on Earth, is the largest of Antarctica‘s almost 400 known subglacial lakes. Is located at the southern Pole of Cold, beneath Russia’s Vostok Station under the surface of the central East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is at 3,488 m (11,444 ft) above mean sea level.
The surface of this fresh water lake is approximately 4,000 m (13,100 ft) under the surface of the ice, which places it at approximately 500 m (1,600 ft) below sea level. Measuring 250 km (160 mi) long by 50 km (30 mi) wide at its widest point, and covering an area of 12,500 km2 (4,830 sq mi) and an average depth of 432 m (1,417 ft).
The lake is named after Vostok Station, which in turn is named after the Vostok (Восток), a sloop-of-war, which means “East” in Russian.