Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 12:11 EDT
Lake Vida Expedition Image 7
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Lake Vida Expedition (Image 7)

July 3, 2012
The ultraviolet light sterilization system used in clean access procedures to irradiate materials entering the ice borehole, where sediment cores were taken as part of the 2010 Lake Vida expedition. Everything that went down the hole was sterilized like a surgical tool. Lake Vida is located in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. The purpose of the expedition was to access the isolated and ice-bound brine ecosystem and underlying sediments in this unusual, mostly frozen lake--one of the highest and coldest of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. The expedition focused on understanding the nature of this enigmatic, cryogenic system that supports a living microbial community at very low temperatures (minus 13 degrees Celsius; 7 degrees Fahrenheit) and in a highly concentrated brine (seven times the salinity of seawater). This research has implications for other isolated systems including subglacial lakes, icy planets and moons in the solar system. This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants ANT 07-39681 and ANT 07-39698 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Alison Murray, a molecular ecologist with the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., was principal investigator. Credit: Peter Glenday, Waterloo University, Canada