FOREIGN SCIENTISTS SUPPORT RUSSIAN PROJECT FOR STUDYING ANTARCTIC LAKE

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MOSCOW, MARCH 25, 2004 (RIA NOVOSTI) - Russian scientists suggest penetrating the really unique ancient lake Vostok, which is located beneath the ice near the south geomagnetic pole in the Antarctic. 46 countries, parties to the Antarctic Treaty, as well as international organizations, unanimously supported this project.

This was disclosed to correspondents by Alexander Danilov, deputy director for scientific programs at the St. Petersburg-based R&D institute of the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Russia was the first to discover this unique freshwater lake beneath the 4-km Antarctic ice layer, Mr. Danilov added.

Experts perceive this scientific phenomenon as the most outstanding 20th century geographic discovery. According to Mr. Danilov, the parties to the Antarctic Treaty have agreed with Russian technological solutions.

Replying to a question by the St. Petersburg Vedomosti newspaper, Mr. Danilov noted that a special Russian unit was used to drill a well through the ice layer above the lake; all drilling operations were eventually stopped 175 meters above the lake's surface. Scientists developed and tested equipment, which ruled out any environmental damage to that lake's habitat (that hadn't contacted the terrestrial atmosphere for millions of years), before taking water samples, Mr. Danilov said in conclusion.

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