NEWS

Scientists faced an unsolvable mystery in Antarctica

Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Данил Сербин

Members of the 64th Russian Antarctic expedition have returned to Saint-Petersburg. “Forpost” found out what mysteries are hidden under the ice of Antarctica, is there an alien base, and what is the purpose for the scientific experiments conducted at the intercontinental polar station “Vostok”.


The scientists from Saint-Petersburg Mining University as well as Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) spent three “summer” months at the station. During that “warm” period the temperatures stay around negative 25 - 40 degrees Celsius (-13 to -40˚F) whereas during the winter which lasts from May until October the temperature can fall to negative 70 - 80 degrees or even lower ( -94 to -112˚F). Such freezing conditions not only negatively influence the human organism, but also seriously limit the use of machinery.

For example, just before departing to Cape Town (in the middle of Antarctic summer in February) the temperature fell to -56˚C (-69˚F) and the plane with the scientists on board got frozen and the polar explorers thought they might have to stay at Antarctica longer. However, they didn’t have to spend the winter. All eight members of the glaciology-drilling team have successfully returned to Saint-Petersburg and told us about the research conducted in Antarctica.


Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Данил Сербин

One of the main goals was to acquire the ice cores from the well drilled above the lake Vostok. That water body is located 3769 meters below the ground and is completely isolated from Earthly conditions. The ice formed above the lake throughout different eras is ideal for studying the patterns of the climate change. The scientists analyze the structure of different ice cores, determine its age and infer what events and consequences of aforementioned had been in motion during its forming in the Earth’s atmosphere.


Andrey Dmitriev, associate professor of the drilling department of the Mining University, noted that the operation conducted in the depth of 3200 meters was a success. “In order to continue gathering materials to study the paleoclimate of Earth, the team managed to deviate from the main well 5G, drill an auxiliary well 5G-5 and acquire 30 meters of new ice core of the full diameter”, Andrey Dmitriev explained.


This ice is 400 to 430 thousand years old. In it we have found 8 sublayers of volcanic ash which were the result of the eruptions of prehistoric Antarctic volcanoes. These are the most ancient traces of volcanic eruptions known to science
glaciologist Alexey Ekaikin, the leading specialist of climate change laboratory of AARI

However, the acquired ice core had other mysteries yet to reveal. The scientist discovered “an acute transition from warm marine isotopic phase MIS-11 to cold marine isotopic phase MIS-12” in 10mm interval which is impossible in organic formation of ice. During the research the scientists figured out the reason - the 20-meter interval was “turned” upside down.


Looks like 410 thousand year ice is followed by 430 thousand year old ice, however, as we go deeper the ice age reverts back to 410 thousand years. We have not figured out how that could be possible yet”
glaciologist Alexey Ekaikin, the leading specialist of climate change laboratory of AARI

Danil Serbin, an Ph.D student of the drilling department at the Mining University, believes that the most realistic explanation for the anomaly is the abundance of extreme attitude differences in prehistoric Antarctica. In other words, the icy continent had a lot of hills and mountains. So 410 thousand years ago the ice that had been forming for 20 thousand years had fallen down the mountain and turned upside down either due to a tectonic shift or an ice slide.

Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Данил Сербин

In response to a question if it could have being an extraterrestrial force in play, the young scientist and his older colleagues laughed that haven’t seen any alien bases or spaceships during their time at the Vostok station. A volcanic eruption seems to be a way more probable option, however, it’s just a theory. The scientists are yet to solve the mysteries of Antarctica.


Forpost NW

Popular news

Events
The Korkinsky Coal Mine. The most ecologically dirty place in Russia.

Svetlana Radionova, the Head of Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service (in Russian: Rosprirodnadzor), named the Korkinsky open-pit coal mine as one of the most heartbreaking examples of technological environmental impact in our country. How do the people actually live though, next to a non-stop fuming tunnel? Who and how will conduct the mine reclamation?

Science
Siberia will lead Russia to economic breakthrough

Over the past 20 years, the global petrochemical industry has seen steady growth - up to 7% per year. According to the forecasts of the International Energy Agency, the same dynamics will continue at least until 2050. The major reason is the rise in living standards in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region and, consecutively, the increased consumption of thermoplastics (polyethylene, polypropylene and others). The volumes of their production are expected to have increased by about 70% in the next 30 years, which will constitute to 590 million tons.

Events
An agreement on scientific cooperation between Saint-Petersburg Mining University and LUT University was signed on the day of Putin’s visit to Finland  

LUT University is now the key partner university in Finland for the International Competence Centre for Mining-Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO. Its main activities will be focused on improving technologies of waste recycling, including waste reuse and disposal of hazardous and toxic substances, as well as working on developing innovations resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, with specific attention to be paid to power engineering facilities.