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In a lost lake 3,500 feet under the Antarctic Ice, scientists just found the carcasses of tiny creatures

In a lost lake 3,500 feet under the Antarctic Ice, scientists just found the carcasses of tiny creatures
SALSA Antarctica/Facebook



Scientists have drilled 3,556 feet into the Antarctic ice to reach Lake Mercer — a subglacial lake that, until now, had only been seen with ice-penetrating radar.




After drilling the hole, scientists pulled up mud, water samples, and a 5.5-foot-long ice core to study.




An analysis of the mud revealed the presence of algae, as well as the carcasses of tiny crustaceans and tardigrades.




Information about Antarctica's subglacial water system helps experts understand the continent's climate history and how it's being impacted by global warming.




Scientists could also apply the challenges involved in Antarctic drilling to other extreme environments, potentially even on other planets.



Lake Mercer, a subglacial lake deep below the Antarctic Ice, sat untouched for millennia — until now.
Scientists accidentally discovered the lake in 2007, when they were examining satellite imagery of Antarctica's ice sheet. Then on December 26, 2018, they finally reached it.
To explore the 50-foot-deep subglacial lake, researchers from a project called SALSA (Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access) had to bore a tiny hole nearly 1 kilometer into the ice. They did this using a drill with a pencil-sized nozzle that sprays heated water. Once the hole was made, they then used a corer tool to pull samples back to the surface.
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