Lake Vida Expedition Image 9
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Lake Vida Expedition (Image 9)

July 3, 2012
Alison Murray, a molecular ecologist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., works with a sample from Lake Vida in McMurdo Station's Crary lab to learn more about the life hidden in the salty brine of the lake. Murray was principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-supported 2011 Lake Vida expedition, the purpose of which 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 in Antarctica. 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. The research was supported by NSF grants ANT 07-39681 and ANT 07-39698 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Murray was principal investigator. Credit: Peter Rejcek

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