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Russian scientists have resumed exploring the world's largest sub-glacial lake in Antarctica
Russian scientists have resumed exploring the world's largest sub-glacial lake in Antarctica, a senior fellow at St. Petersburg's Institute of Arctic and Antarctic Studies said Thursday. Sergei Balyasnikov, an aide to the institute's director, said a team of researchers taking part in Russia's 52nd Antarctic expedition has continued drilling a well through Lake Vostok's ice sheet, which is some 4,000 meters (2.5 miles) thick. "The drilling has resumed, with the [2006/2007] season's first ice samples extracted from a depth of 3,650 meters (2.07 miles)," he said. Well drilling has been ongoing intermittently since the lake was discovered 10 years ago. According to Balyasnikov, some 75 meters (225 feet) of ice core will be extracted from the well before the end of the season, and the first water samples could be obtained next year. The Vostok, about the size of Lake Ontario, is impenetrable to sunlight, and the pressure there may reach 400 atmospheres. Scientists said the unique ecosystem, isolated from the Earth's surface biosphere and atmosphere for millions of years, may have given rise to new forms of life impossible elsewhere. They believe the exploration of Lake Vostok could expand their knowledge of life on Earth and provide important clues as to how global climate may change in the millennia ahead. Drilling was suspended 3,600 meters into the well in 1998, pending the arrival of special technologies to minimize the negative environmental impact of penetration, and resumed in late 2005.
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