Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Digging Deeper Below Antarctica's Lake Vida

16.09.2009
Antarctica's Lake Vida, a geologic curiosity that is essentially an ice bottle of brine, is home to some of the oldest and coldest living organisms on Earth.

Perpetually covered by more than 60 feet of ice, the brine below -- water that is five to seven times more salty than seawater -- has been found to be home to cryobiological microbes some 2,800 years old which were revived after a gradual thaw.

That widely reported finding came in 2002 from Peter Doran, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. But the discovery raised many new questions. Now, Doran and his department colleague Fabien Kenig with collaborators from the Nevada-based Desert Research Institute will return to Lake Vida late next year for more exploration, funded by a $1.1 million National Science Foundation grant.

Doran and Kenig plan to perform the first-ever drilling entirely through Lake Vida's thick ice cap, into the brine, and down into sediment below, retrieving about 10 feet or more of core sample for analysis.

"The main goal is to get into that brine pocket and the sediment beneath it to both document and define the ecosystem that's there today, and the history of that ecosystem," Doran said.

The sediment samples could yield clues about life in such an extreme environment dating back thousands of years, which could help geoscientists draw a better picture of processes that occur as the Earth moves into colder periods.

"If we took, for example, a Wisconsin lake and started turning the temperatures down during a climatic downturn, what is the impact on the lake's ecosystem and what strategies are used by living things to survive this extremely cold brine?" Doran said of the salty liquid that hovers around 10 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. "There are few examples on Earth of things shown to live in that water temperature."

A University of Wisconsin group will drill the ice hole, but special care will be required in preparing the site. A tent will be partitioned to provide both a drilling site cover and adjacent laboratory to analyze samples. It will be sort of like setting up a hospital operating room in the Antarctic cold, with the drill requiring the sanitary cleanliness of a surgeon's scalpel to prevent any surface contaminants from ruining samples.

Kenig, an organic geochemist, will study the lake's carbon and organic chemistry as well as molecular fossils in the sediment core. These preserved organic compounds will point to changes in the ecosystem as the lake froze.

"As this environment was isolated for some time, we need to be very cautious not to introduce any external elements that could bias our samples," Kenig said. To assure sample purity, nothing plastic or rubber will be used in the drilling and all equipment penetrating the lake water and sediment will be sterilized.

While specially preserved samples will be shipped back to UIC and the Desert Research Institute for later analysis, some work, such as microbial counts, will be done on site. Doran's previous on-site research at Lake Vida found in the ice the highest concentration of nitrous oxide -- "laughing gas" -- of any ecosystem on Earth. It was a clue that would make any scientist smile.

"This gas is produced by microbes," Doran said. "That was a hint that we had a viable ecosystem there."

The NSF award is funded under the federal government's economic stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Paul Francuch | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uic.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht A close-up look at an uncommon underwater eruption
11.01.2018 | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

nachricht Environmental history told by sludge: Global warming lets the dead zones in the Black Sea grow
10.01.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ein Atom dünn: Physiker messen erstmals mechanische Eigenschaften zweidimensionaler Materialien

Die dünnsten heute herstellbaren Materialien haben eine Dicke von einem Atom. Sie zeigen völlig neue Eigenschaften und sind zweidimensional – bisher bekannte Materialien sind dreidimensional aufgebaut. Um sie herstellen und handhaben zu können, liegen sie bislang als Film auf dreidimensionalen Materialien auf. Erstmals ist es Physikern der Universität des Saarlandes um Uwe Hartmann jetzt mit Forschern vom Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gelungen, die mechanischen Eigenschaften von freitragenden Membranen atomar dünner Materialien zu charakterisieren. Die Messungen erfolgten mit dem Rastertunnelmikroskop an Graphen. Ihre Ergebnisse veröffentlichen die Forscher im Fachmagazin Nanoscale.

Zweidimensionale Materialien sind erst seit wenigen Jahren bekannt. Die Wissenschaftler André Geim und Konstantin Novoselov erhielten im Jahr 2010 den...

Im Focus: Forscher entschlüsseln zentrales Reaktionsprinzip von Metalloenzymen

Sogenannte vorverspannte Zustände beschleunigen auch photochemische Reaktionen

Was ermöglicht den schnellen Transfer von Elektronen, beispielsweise in der Photosynthese? Ein interdisziplinäres Forscherteam hat die Funktionsweise wichtiger...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: Erstmalige präzise Messung der effektiven Ladung eines einzelnen Moleküls

Zum ersten Mal ist es Forschenden gelungen, die effektive elektrische Ladung eines einzelnen Moleküls in Lösung präzise zu messen. Dieser fundamentale Fortschritt einer vom SNF unterstützten Professorin könnte den Weg für die Entwicklung neuartiger medizinischer Diagnosegeräte ebnen.

Die elektrische Ladung ist eine der Kerneigenschaften, mit denen Moleküle miteinander in Wechselwirkung treten. Das Leben selber wäre ohne diese Eigenschaft...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

DFG unterstützt Kongresse und Tagungen - März 2018

17.01.2018 | Veranstaltungen

2. Hannoverscher Datenschutztag: Neuer Datenschutz im Mai – Viele Unternehmen nicht vorbereitet!

16.01.2018 | Veranstaltungen

Fachtagung analytica conference 2018

15.01.2018 | Veranstaltungen

 
VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Projekt "HorseVetMed": Forscher entwickeln innovatives Sensorsystem zur Tierdiagnostik

17.01.2018 | Agrar- Forstwissenschaften

Seltsames Verhalten eines Sterns offenbart Schwarzes Loch, das sich in riesigem Sternhaufen verbirgt

17.01.2018 | Physik Astronomie

Ein Atom dünn: Physiker messen erstmals mechanische Eigenschaften zweidimensionaler Materialien

17.01.2018 | Physik Astronomie