BBC News – Drill reaches Antarctica’s under-ice Lake Whillans

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21231380
28 January 2013 Last updated at 06:12 ET

By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent

An image from the Wissard borehole camera
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An American attempt to bore down into Lake Whillans, a body of water buried almost 1km under the Antarctic ice, has achieved its aim.

Scientists reported on Sunday that sensors on their drill system had noted a change in pressure, indicating contact had been made with the lake.

A camera was then sent down to verify the breakthrough.

The Whillans project is one of a number of such ventures trying to investigate Antarctica’s buried lakes.

In December, a British team abandoned its efforts to get into Lake Ellsworth after encountering technical difficulties.

The Russians have taken water samples from Lake Vostok, although they have yet to report any big discoveries.

Lake Whillans is sited in the west of Antarctica, on the southeastern edge of the Ross Sea.

It is less of a lake and more of a dense system of streams, almost like a delta, that covers some 60 square km. The liquid body is quite shallow – just a few metres in depth.

The Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (Wissard) team has been using a hot-water drill to melt a 30cm-diameter hole through the overlying ice. ….(more).

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