Researchers in Antarctica discovered an “astonishing magnetic anomaly” three miles under the ice during a flyby of the continent.
The find was made near Russia’s scientific research station in East Antarctica. In the 1990s, scientists drilled into this area to discover what is known as Lake Vostok .
But their work stopped just short of reaching the water, due to concerns about the deterioration of what could be a “pristine” ecosystem, leaving a number of questions unanswered.
Narrator David Taylor said: ‘In the 1970s, through aerial radar, Russia began to suspect that they had inadvertently built their base on the tip of a large subglacial lake.
“In the years since orbital radar mapping, combined with surface seismological measurements, has confirmed that Lake Vostok, under two miles of solid ice, is the largest lake discovered in the last 100 years.
“About the size of Lake Ontario, but much deeper in places, over 3,000 feet, and about four times the volume.
“The lake, which is still liquid and not frozen, has been isolated under the ice sheets for between 13,000 and 14 million years, depending on who you talk to.
“The water in the lake, determined by thermal scans of the surface, ranges from 10C to 18C, which clearly indicates an underground heat source.”
Mr. Taylor went on to detail exactly what they found in the drilled hole.
“In addition, the entire lake is covered by a sloping dome of air several thousand feet high that is formed by hot water melting the overlapping ice just above the lake’s surface.
‘Core samples taken by the Russians have revealed the presence of microbes, nutrients and various gases such as methane embedded in the clear frozen lake water just above the dome.
“Such elements are typical signatures of biological processes, the lake therefore has all the ingredients of an incredible scientific find – a completely isolated ecosystem, water, heat, breathed gases and current biological activity.
As the actual scope and composition of the lake became apparent, NASA began to see it as an ideal test bed for their plans to drill through the ice and search the oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
The mission was canceled over environmental contamination concerns, but scans of the area since then have revealed something more puzzling.
Mr Taylor explained: “A team of scientists from Columbia University, working under the auspices of the National Science Foundation, began an unprecedented series of low-altitude aerial surveys over Lake Vostok , designed to map gravitational magnetic activity. and thermal under the ice.
As they did so, they made an amazing find.
‘A huge magnetic anomaly was discovered covering the entire southeastern portion of the lake shore. This remarkable anomaly could not have been caused by natural processes. “