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Russia delays Lake Vostok drill – again

vostok.jpgPosted for Quirin Schiermeier

Russia has postponed for another year plans to drill into sub-glacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica. Entry into the uniquely pristine lake 3,750 metres below the Antarctic ice sheet is now planned for the 2010-2011 drilling season, Valery Lukin, director of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, told Nature in an email.

During the 2008-2009 drilling season the Russian crew made an unsuccessful attempt to recover from the borehole bottom at 3,367 metres a drill that had been damaged during an accident in October 2007 (see: Russia delays Lake Vostok drill, 16 July 2008).

“All attempts to extract the drill have failed,” says Lukin. “On 20 January 2009 our drillers have made a decision to change the direction of drilling beginning from a depth of 3,590 metres.”

Seasonal operations at Russia’s Vostok station in East Antarctica will resume in late November, and continue until around early February when temperatures usually drop below levels at which aircraft can safely operate. The Russian drillers hope to reach a depth of around 3,680 metres by the end of the season.

Image: Lake Vostok / NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Canadian Space Agency/RADARSAT International Inc.


  1. Report this comment

    james anderson said:

    The russians will find when they initially drill into Lake Vostok that the expected surge of methane gas will not materialize .

    What they mind find is a huge deposit of oil surrounding the lake to the north .Just a guess have a good day .

  2. Report this comment

    Old Bob said:

    At the moment the ice is sitting on top of the water but as soon as the pressure is released the great bulk of icewill dis place the water till the ice is deep in the lake like a ice berg. The high pressure water may exit up the bore hole causing large amount of flooding. Can anyone work out what pressure 4000 meters of ice would have?

  3. Report this comment

    jody b said:

    Personally I think that they should not even drill throu at all. It is the last"Virgin" Lake and life on the planet. I say just leave it alone.Why we “humans” have to destroy everthing we dont understand is beyond me!

  4. Report this comment

    Sheldon said:

    Humans are certainly guilty of destroying many of our planets treasures, in this case however I truly believe they have done their due dilagence. From what I have read, they could have drilled through the ice to the lake years ago, but inorder to avoid contaminating the pristine water they have developed new drilling techniques.

    My Theory:

    Because of the immence pressure, the water of Lake Vostok remains liquid even though it is well below the freezing temperature of water. I predict they will have major diffaculties in retrieving a sample.

  5. Report this comment

    Tucup said:

    For what is worth I think drilling this is very important. The statement about it being the last virgin lake left and should be left alone is narrow minded. Also the idea that there is a warm liquid there because of the imense presure is all guess work to be polite here. We dont know what we will find. I think scientist should explore this lake but be careful not to damage the enviroment.

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    camping tents said:

    The russians will comprehend when they initially baboon into Lake Vostok that the likely course of methane gas instrument not hap .

    What they remember feat is a brobdingnagian fund of oil surrounding the lake to the northeastward .Upright a hazard score a saintly


    mary scott

  7. Report this comment

    alex said:

    how does the jpl fit into this? i thought they wanted to test a (“sterilized”) europan probe prototype there.

  8. Report this comment

    sterilizers said:

    What they remember feat is a brobdingnagian fund of oil surrounding the lake to the northeastward.

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