Understanding the Boundary Conditions of the Lake Vostok Environment: A Site Survey for Future Work
Entry ID: LVS

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Summary
Abstract: Abstract

This project with funding provided by the Office of Polar Programs under the
Life in Extreme Environments (LExEn) Program, includes a geophysical study of
Lake Vostok, a large lake beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Subglacial ecosystems, in particular subglacial lake ecosystems are extreme
oligotrophic environments. These environments, and the ecosystems which may
exist within them, should provide key insights into a range of fundamental
questions about the development of Earth and other bodies in the Solar System
including: 1) the processes associated with rapid evolutionary radiation after
the extensive Neoproterozoic glaciations; 2) the overall carbon cycle through
glacial and interglacial periods; and 3) the possible adaptations organisms may
require to thrive in environments such as on Europa, the ice covered moon of
Jupiter. Over 70 subglacial lakes have been identified beneath the 3-4
kilometer thick ice of Antarctica. One lake, Lake Vostok, is sufficiently large
to be clearly identified from space with satellite altimetry. Lake Vostok is
similar to Lake Ontario in area but with a much larger volume including
measured water depths of 600 meters. The overlying ice sheet is acting as a
conveyer belt continually delivering new water, nutrients, gas hydrates,
sediments and microbes as the ice sheet flows across the lake.

The goal of this program is to determine the fundamental boundary conditions
for this subglacial lake as an essential first step toward understanding the
physical processes within the lake. An aerogeophysical survey over the lake and
into the surrounding regions will be acquired to meet this goal. This data set
includes gravity, magnetic, laser altimetry and ice penetrating radar data and
will be used to compile a basic set of ice surface elevation, subglacial
topography, gravity and magnetic anomaly maps.

Potential field methods widely used in the oil industry will be modified to
estimate the subglacial topography from gravity data where the ice penetrating
radar will be unable to recover the depth of the lake. A similar method can be
modified to estimate the thickness of the sediments beneath the lake from
magnetic data. These methods will be tested and applied to subglacial lakes
near South Pole prior to the Lake Vostok field campaign and will provide
valuable comparisons to the planned survey. Once the methods have been adjusted
for the Lake Vostok application, maps of the water cavity and sediment
thickness beneath the lake will be produced.

These maps will become tools to explore the geologic origin of the lake. The
two endmember models are, first, that the lake is an active tectonic rift such
as Lake Baikal and, second, the lake is the result of glacial scouring. The
distinct characteristics of an extensional rift can be easily identified with
our aerogeophysical survey. The geological interpretation of the airborne
geophysical survey will provide the first geological constraints of the
interior of the East Antarctic continent based on modern data. In addition, the
underlying geology will influence the ecosystem within the lake.

One of the critical issues for the ecosystem within the lake will be the flux
of nutrients. A preliminary estimation of the regions of freezing and melting
based on the distance between distinctive internal layers observed on the radar
data will be made. These basic boundary conditions will provide guidance for a
potential international effort aimed at in situ exploration of the lake and
improve the understanding of East Antarctic geologic structures.

This metadata record has several associated subentries, each of which describe
data gatherd during different geophysical aerogeophysical transects.

This data set description is a member of a collection. Click to see members of this collection.

Geographic Coverage
 N: -62.83 S: -90.0  E: 180.0  W: -180.0

Data Set Citation
Dataset Originator/Creator: Robin E. Bell and Michael S. Studinger
Dataset Title: Understanding the Boundary Conditions of the Lake Vostok Environment: A Site Survey for Future Work
Dataset Publisher: Support Office for Aerogeophysical Research
Other Citation Details: Funded under NSF Award #9978236


Location Keywords
CONTINENT > ANTARCTICA
GEOGRAPHIC REGION > POLAR


Science Keywords
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >ICE DEPTH/THICKNESS    [Definition]
LAND SURFACE >TOPOGRAPHY >TERRAIN ELEVATION    [Definition]
SOLID EARTH >GRAVITY/GRAVITATIONAL FIELD >GRAVITY    [Definition]
SOLID EARTH >GEOMAGNETISM >MAGNETIC FIELD >MAGNETIC ANOMALIES    [Definition]


ISO Topic Category
ELEVATION
GEOSCIENTIFIC INFORMATION
INLAND WATERS


Platform
DHC-6 >DeHavilland Twin Otter    [Information]


Project
NSF/PLR >Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation    [Information]
SOAR-LVS >Support Office for Aerogeophysical Research Lake Vostok Project    [Information]


Access Constraints
None


Keywords
LDEO
SOAR
LAKE VOSTOK
NSF


Data Set Progress
IN WORK


Originating Center


Data Center
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University    [Information]
Data Center URL: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/

Data Center Personnel
Name: ROBERT A. ARKO
Email: info at usap-data.org
Contact Address:
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
61 Route 9W
City: Palisades
Province or State: NY
Postal Code: 10964
Country: USA


Personnel
ROBIN E. BELL
Role: INVESTIGATOR
Phone: 845 365 8827
Fax: 845 365 8179
Email: robinb at ldeo.columbia.edu
Contact Address:
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
61 Route 9W
City: Palisades
Province or State: NY
Postal Code: 10964
Country: USA


MICHAEL S. STUDINGER
Role: INVESTIGATOR
Phone: 845 365 8598
Fax: 845 365 8179
Email: mstuding at ldeo.columbia.edu
Contact Address:
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
61 Route 9W
City: PALISADES
Province or State: NY
Postal Code: 10964
Country: USA


ROBERT A. ARKO
Role: DIF AUTHOR
Email: info at usap-data.org
Contact Address:
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
61 Route 9W
City: Palisades
Province or State: NY
Postal Code: 10964
Country: USA



Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2003-04-24
Last DIF Revision Date: 2008-08-29
Future DIF Review Date: 2004-04-24

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