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Lake Vida Expedition (Image 3)

Members of the 2010 Lake Vida expedition team

Members of the 2010 Lake Vida expedition team Peter Doran (professor, University of Illinois, Chicago), Chris Fritsen (research professor, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nev.) and Jay Kyne (an ice driller) use a sidewinder drill to drill an ice core from the frozen lake, located in Antarctica. The team did not find a liquid layer at the bottom of the lake that they believed existed based on radar data, adding a new mystery to one of the most enigmatic features in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

The purpose of the expedition was to access the isolated and ice-bound brine ecosystem and underlying sediments in this unusual, mostly frozen lake--one of the highest and coldest of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. The expedition focused on understanding the nature of this enigmatic, cryogenic system that supports a living microbial community at very low temperatures (minus 13 degrees Celsius; 7 degrees Fahrenheit) and in a highly concentrated brine (seven times the salinity of seawater). This research has implications for other isolated systems including subglacial lakes, icy planets and moons in the solar system.

This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants ANT 07-39681 and ANT 07-39698 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Alison Murray, a molecular ecologist with the Desert Research Institute, was principal investigator.

To learn more about the 2010 Lake Vida expedition, see The Antarctic Sun news story Scientists drill into frozen Lake Vida to explore its unusual biology, chemistry and history. (Date of Image: November 2010) [Image 3 of 10 related images. See Image 4.]

Credit: Ema Kuhn, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nev.

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