Astrobiologist Base Camp at Lake Untersee, Antarctica

While camped in the mountains of Queen Maud Land, we did have some challenging weather. A few times the winds hit close to 100 mph at the camp causing white-out and near white-out conditions. This is a small example…..


Lake Untersee is one of the largest (11.4 km2) and deepest freshwater lakes in East Antarctica. Located at 71•S, the lake has a perennial ice cover that varies in thickness along the main axis of the lake from 2.2 to 3.9 m.

With the exception of a small anoxic basin in the southwest of the lake, the water column is generally well mixed, is supersaturated with dissolved oxygen, has a pH of 10.4 and exceedingly high clarity (vertical attenuation coefficient for PAR of 0.033 m-1).

While the water column supports little primary production, the floor of the lake has an extensive cover of photosynthetic microbial mat to depths of at least 100 m. For more information, see: Andersen DT, Sumner DY, Hawes I, Webster-Brown J, McKay CP (2011) Discovery of large conical stromatolites in Lake Untersee, Antarctica. Geobiology, 9, 280-293.

via onorbit