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Author Topic: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?  (Read 3324 times)

Offline Democritus

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What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« on: 09/02/2012 01:10:31 »
"The Russian team hit the lake Sunday at the depth of 12,366 feet (3769 metres) about 800 miles (1300 kilometres) southeast of the South Pole in the central part of the continent."

The above is part of a report in the Sydney Morning Herald today. Full report here:

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/its-like-exploring-another-planet-russians-reach-antarctic-lake-in-scientific-coup-20120209-1rkc2.html [nofollow]

Is this why Oates just went outside and was some time?
Regards
Democritus





 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #1 on: 09/02/2012 01:29:26 »
Do you mean that the drilling contaminated the water?
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #2 on: 09/02/2012 04:37:15 »
Well...  I do have to wonder about their description:
Quote
However, the effort has drawn strong fears that 60 metric tons of lubricants and antifreeze used in the drilling may contaminate the pristine lake.
[...]
He said about 1.5 cubic metres of kerosene and freon poured up to the surface tanks from the boreshaft, proof that the lake water streamed up from underneath, froze and then blocked the hole, sealing off the chance that any toxic chemicals could contaminate.
Hopefully they did get some good "clean" samples. 

Does this mean they now have a 3.7km ice plug? 

It may put a damper on their plans for a future robotic explorer.

 

Offline Democritus

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #3 on: 09/02/2012 23:57:36 »
Good points yor_on & CliffordK, but I'm not asking what's wrong the the Ruskies actions, I'm asking what's wrong within the report. This might be a question for the Physics folks.. I'll see if I'm allowed to put it there as well ;)
Cheers
Democritus
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #4 on: 10/02/2012 00:47:21 »
I find it is always easiest to keep topics in one place.

They do talk about it being a 20 Million year old lake covered by a 400 thousand year old sheet of ice.

However. the glaciers in the central Antarctic melt from the bottom up due to geothermal temperatures, so that would not be surprising.

One might ask the accuracy of the statement that the lake has been hidden under ice for 20 million years.  According to Wikipedia, Antarctica entered a glacial minimum about 25 million years ago, and re-glaciation happened about 10 to 15 million years ago.

However, according to this document, East Antarctica retained thick ice sheets for most of the Miocene period.  That would push the glaciation back to about 35 million years ago.

Still, with a 400,000 yr old ice cap, I would think that much of the 35 million year old water would have been flushed out by now, or at least significantly diluted.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #5 on: 10/02/2012 01:15:32 »
One might also ask whether drilling a hole in the ground in -70 degree weather, but otherwise in a breathable atmosphere over a period of 2 decades is equivalent to sending people to the moon in less than a decade.  Personally I would not equate the two. 

But, we can allow a little bit of poetic license.

conditions similar to those expected to be found under the ice crust on Mars
Hmmm, I don't remember a discussion of liquid water in the polar regions of Mars. 

While Earth's extremophiles might be able to survive around the geothermal vents on Europa or Enceladus, I'm not convinced that they could spontaneously evolve there. 

Current life in lake Vostok will undoubtedly depend on the existence of geothermal vents, and a fairly high mineral content.  Without them, I foresee little possibility of life.
 

Offline Democritus

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #6 on: 10/02/2012 08:22:51 »
Thanks CliffordK for great contributions & questions I hadn't thought of. What's really wrong with the report is that it locates Lake Vostok as being 'southeast' of the South Pole. This is impossible. A lazy error. All locations on the surface of the Earth, aside from the South Pole, are due North of the South Pole. All meridians of longitude intersect at the poles. So if you are standing at the South Pole all directions you may face are pointing North.

And you're right, seems duplicating topics in forums is frowned upon. Sorry Geezer. Perhaps should have put this in Physics first, as it is a matter of vectors. :)
Best wishes all,
Democritus. 
 

Offline Democritus

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #7 on: 10/02/2012 08:50:00 »
I just had another look at the newspaper report following the link

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/its-like-exploring-another-planet-russians-reach-antarctic-lake-in-scientific-coup-20120209-1rkc2.html#ixzz1ly0wFBdY [nofollow]

The original para in question:
"The Russian team hit the lake Sunday at the depth of 12,366 feet (3769 metres) about 800 miles (1300 kilometres) southeast of the South Pole in the central part of the continent."

Has been edited to read:
"The Russian team hit the lake on Sunday at a depth of 3769 metres about 1300 kilometres from the South Pole in the central part of the continent."

I don't know when the correction happened, but pleased it did.
Cheers
D
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #8 on: 10/02/2012 09:10:27 »
Yes,
I see the article doesn't mention southeast of the south pole (thus it makes it very hard to find your answer).  I can't say when the update was made.

The article has hit the Associated Press, and apparently the error has replicated itself a few times on the internet.

http://plusorminusscience.blogspot.com/2012/02/antarctic-great-lake-glimpsed.html
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/russian-scientists-drill-20-years-finally-reach-deep-antarctic-lake-buried-ice-20-million-years-article-1.1019365

Personally I never like East or West when describing the Arctic or Antarctic either, although West Antarctica vs East Antarctica seems to be reasonably well defined.

I would still question whether Lake Vostok is representative of water on Mars.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2012 09:12:08 by CliffordK »
 

Offline damocles

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #9 on: 12/02/2012 22:31:46 »
  ;) I think you have to make allowance for the fact that this was originally an Australian report.

We spend all the time with the "far east" to the near north-west; the "middle east" and "near east" farther away in much the same direction, and the "western hemisphere" to our east.
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
« Reply #10 on: 13/02/2012 02:21:30 »
But surely, because you are upside down, isn't your east is our west?
 

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Re: What's wrong with this Lake Vostok report?
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