Microorganisms discovered in remotest part of Earth

Scientists recently announced the discovery of microorganisms in Lake Whillans. This is no ordinary lake. Lake Whillans lies about 1 km (half a mile) under a glacier, in the western part of the continent Antarctica. It is referred to as a ‘subglacial lake’. This lake hasn’t seen sunlight for millions of years. Getting to Lake Whillans was not an easy task. In 2013, American scientists successfully drilled a hole and reached the water of the lake. The scientists had to be extremely careful to use tools and a method of drilling that would not contaminate the lake water. They have been studying the water, and have now confirmed that life exists in the lake.

Subglacial lakes can be formed because of the heat in the interior of the earth melting the bottom of the glaciers. They also can be formed because of the heat created at the bottom of the ice by the pressure of the thick ice pressing down.

Here is a video about how they drilled a hole in the glacier to get to the lake.

 

Image Credits: WISSARD and http://www.montana.edu/ for the rod-shaped cell image, http://www.wissard.org/ for Lake Whillans’ image
Sources: http://www.montana.edu/, http://www.wissard.org/, http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu