Uni Experts on Antarctica Trip; Mission Set to Unlock Lake's Hidden Secrets

The Journal (Newcastle, England), September 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Uni Experts on Antarctica Trip; Mission Set to Unlock Lake's Hidden Secrets


Byline: Tony Henderson

TWO North East universities are involved in what will be one of the most ambitious of scientific missions to unlock the secrets of an ancient lake in Antarctica.

Next month, after 10 years of planning, a team of British scientists, engineers and support staff will make the 10,000-mile journey from the UK to collect samples of water and sediments from the lake, buried beneath a mile-and-a-half of ice.

Their quest is to reveal secrets about the Earth's past climate and discover life forms that may live in subglacial Lake Ellsworth on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The lake was identified by Northumbria University scientist Dr John Woodward and fellow experts. Dr Woodward, from the Faculty of Engineering and Environment, was part of the team which located the ideal drill site for the exploration.

He said: "When we started work on this project in 2003 we always hoped lake access would be possible. It has taken the team 10 years to reach the point where the drilling can take place.

"This is an exciting moment for all involved - lifting the lid on the lake is a ground-breaking piece of science in the most extreme environment on Earth."

Dr Woodward will be in Antarctica from the middle of November.

Professor Mike Bentley, from the Department of Geography at Durham University, will lead the team back in the UK which will analyse the sediment samples brought up from the icy depths. …

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