Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Diagram #6 (Lake Vostok, Antarctica)

Schematic of L. Vostok


L. Vostok Exploration (Proposed/Pending)


L. Vostok Research & Documentation

11 comments:

Chris Vitiello said...

"Aphotic" is one of my all-time favorite words.

Do any animals live in this lake?

More importantly, how do we put Dick Cheney in this lake?

cv

Brent Cunningham said...

They don't know yet if there is life in Vostok. The leading theory is probably there is microscopic life, since they've been only suprised thus far to have found life in places hitherto unexpected. Plans for exploration are proceeding slowly due to environmental concerns--this lake has had no light or connection to the surface world for perhaps 35million years, so the word 'pristine' is actually insufficient. One idea is to practice on some smaller subarctic lakes before building up to their everest. However the Russians seem anxious & are threatening to restart the Vostok Station drill, which was stopped when the lake was discovered in 1996 (the hole is now filled with aviation fuel and freon). It was purely coincidental that they were drilling an ice core above what may be the largest freshwater lake by volume on earth.

Chris Vitiello said...

Hey manno,
Check out the wikipedia article for the lake. It notes that, as the water is hyperoxygenated, it would spray out a core-drill hole with tremendous force from the carbonated pressure.
Needless to say, this is everyone's favorite lake now.
cv

sara* said...

hey brent

i love these

xo

Brent Cunningham said...

There's a problematic sentence in the Wikipedia article on Vostok: "Heat from the Earth's interior (geothermal) warms the bottom of the lake." Maybe the Wikipedia author knows some new data, but other articles say that no one yet knows for sure what causes the lake. This interests me a lot.

The following is from http://www.resa.net/nasa/antarctica.htm :

"As to why [L. Vostok] remains liquid in the coldest place on Earth, it has been suggested that heat from the earth's interior (from radioactive decay) has kept it from freezing in the form of geothermal heat, radiating up from below warms rocks on the bottom of the lake. The ice sheet itself may be acting as a blanket, protecting the lake from cold temperatures on the surface. Another possibility is that the lake has not yet had time enough to freeze after a temperate period that ended about 5,000 years ago. A third hypothesis has the lake remaining liquid due to the pressure of the ice bearing down on it."

The middle option is rather fascinating, since generally we think of 5,000 years as enough time for anything to happen. But in some ways anarctica is just an ice cube in a freezer and 5,000 years is just an hour. So what kind of speeds is this freezing point reaching as it moves downward? By my math about 12 meters a year.

Chris Vitiello said...

That gradual downward freezing theory is like how Florida orange-growers hose down their trees when a late-season freeze comes along, to preserve their trees within a 32degree casing rather than expose them to air temeratures below that.

The pressure idea is interesting too. I wonder if the ice above the lake moves laterally overtop of it.

Brent Cunningham said...

Chris,

It does move laterally. That's the "ice flow" arrown in the diagram. While we sometimes think of ice as static it's always moving: there's "ice streams" for instance, just like ocean currents but slower, within the ice sheets of the antarctic. One of the larger ones is called the Recovery Glacier ice stream. "Downsteam" from it the ice moves a third of a mile a year, while "upstream" from it the ice moves a few feet a year. I think the ice above Vostok moves about 3 to 4 meters a year, but it's hard for me to say for certain because I don't speak scientistese. Here it is if anyone does: "the derived ice flow velocity for Vostok Station is 2.00ma-1 +/- 0.01ma-1"

Joseph said...

Very interesting! Want to know current update on Vostok Lake..


Kitchen Benchtops

Brent Cunningham said...

Update: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/02/120208-russians-lake-vostok-antarctica-drilling-science/

Vincenzo di pietro said...

Sorry for my terrible english. I'm vincenzo di pietro, an italian writer. I would like to use your drawings about lake Vostok in my new novel that will be published in 2015. Do you think that it's possible? For any question, my mail is vin.dipietro@gmail.com
thank you.

Vincenzo di pietro said...

P.s. obviously, I will say in the novel the origin of drawings with any special thanks.