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Lake Vostok Facts

Largest of more than 140 subglacial lakes found under the surface of Antarctica.

  • Lake Vostok is located at the southern Pole of Cold, beneath Russia's Vostok Station under the surface of the central East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is at 3,488 metres (11,444 ft) above mean sea level.
  • The overlying ice provides a continuous paleoclimatic record of 400,000 years, although the lake water itself may have been isolated for 15 to 25 million years.
  • The lake is named after Vostok Station, which in turn is named after the Vostok, the 985-ton sloop-of-war sailed by one of the discoverers of Antarctica, Russian explorer Admiral Fabian von Bellingshausen.
  • The lake was discovered and named by Russian geographer Andrey Kapitsa. This was one of the last major geographic discoveries on Earth.
  • On 5 February 2012, after twenty years of drilling, a team of Russian scientists completed the longest ever ice core of 3,768 meters and pierced the ice shield to the surface of the lake.
  • In April 2005, German, Russian, and Japanese researchers found that the lake has tides.
  • Depending on the position of the Sun and the Moon, the surface of the lake rises about 12 millimeters.
  • The lake is under complete darkness and expected to be rich in oxygen, so there is speculation that any organisms inhabiting the lake could have evolved in a manner unique to this environment.
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