Antarctica Hides A Large Lake Under Millions Of Years Of Ice

By Peter R - 29 Apr '16 14:20PM

A large expanse of water, connected by canyons about a mile deep that scientists believe is a sub-glacial lake, has been discovered in Antarctica.

The discovery is based on satellite imagery and has excited geologists as it has spurred talk about finding life in the most unlikely of the places on Earth. The lake has been estimated at 87 miles by 12 miles and is said to be part of a system of canyons extending to about 680 miles, according to Discovery.

"We hypothesize that these are tectonically controlled and relate to a large subglacial basin containing a deep-water lake in the interior of PEL linked to a series of long, deep canyons," researchers wrote in the journal Geology.

Microbial life was found earlier when researchers drilled the ice surface of the Ross Ice Shelf. The find stunned many as the survival of species, numbering thousands, without sunlight and a discernable source of nutrients, remained a mystery. Later, scientists were able to capture crustaceans deep down.

The largest sub-glacial lake in Antarctica is Lake Vostok that measures 150 miles by 39 miles and is said to lie at a depth of two miles. The lake has remained undisturbed under ice for nearly 15 million years. Drilling efforts into the lake are on to ascertain its biology. Questions were raised about announcement of life being found in the lake earlier.

The yet to be named lake, in a region known as Princess Elizabeth Land, was identified by long lines on the surface that are thought to be channels.

"We've seen these strange, linear channels on the surface, and are inferring these are above massive, 1000-kilometre-long channels, and there's a relatively large subglacial lake there too," Martin Siegert of Imperial College London, whose team located the lake, said.

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