Under the ice of the canadian Arctic have found a unique salt lake
Scientists found in the Canadian Arctic archipelago lakes that can tell you something new about icy worlds of the Solar system.
High in the canadian Arctic, under the 500-meter layer of ice, the subglacial reservoir.
Maximum water temperature there reaches -10.5 degrees Celsius, and it should be very salty, so as not to freeze.
In a similar cold and salty condition is a subsurface ocean of Jupiter’s moon Europe, where, according to scientists, the possible existence of life.
The data of the research team at the University of Alberta published in the journal Science Advances.
For the first time in Canada
Two lakes were found in radar shooting the mountain Devon ice Cap, located on Devon island, high in the canadian Arctic archipelago.
“I was incredibly surprised and a bit puzzled, says Anja Rutishauser, lead author of the study. I’m not exactly looking for the subglacial lake.”
Although the water system at large is more like ice, a glacier of the Devon island was considered frozen to the bottom.
This is the first subglacial lakes found in the canadian Arctic, they are expected to occupy an area of from five to eight square kilometers.
“This is an amazing find, I really didn’t expect there at geophysical study of such a small glacier,” says Professor Martin Sigerthe from Imperial College London, who was not involved in the study.
“As far as I know, this is a unique lake system. [More than] 400 subglacial lakes in Antarctica, is believed to consist of fresh water. Therefore, any living organism that originated in them, may also be unique,” he added.
Life at the freezing temperature
Water found in lakes is approximately five times saltier than the sea that it lowers the freezing point compared to fresh water.
Other sub-glacial lakes in Greenland or Antarctica, freshwater, and they were formed by melting glaciers grounds. The heat of the earth’s crust comes from layers of rocks and isolated large ice layers.
Layer of canadian glaciers is not thick enough to provide the insulation, sufficient for melting.
Saturated salt water was studied on the example of the Taylor glacier in Antarctica in the dry valleys McMurdo station. There is such a reservoir is supplied with sea water from the ancient Harbor.
Due to the mountainous locations of these lakes are located above sea level and so salty they are due to the high salinity of the surrounding mountains.
This is interesting. The more places we explore, the more subglacial lakes find. In the same way as in salenikovich conditions, there can be a wide variety of types of lakes and life forms.Professor Gemma Vadhanavikit Bristol
Many of the questions researchers have yet to answer. Perhaps, in this region there is a chain of lakes, in addition to these two, and have yet to determine their size.
The potential for life in this environment is a vital question because there may exist a huge isolated microbial habitat.
The authors of the study suggest that the lakes could be isolated from the environment for 120 thousand years.
“The probability of the existence of life in this system is high, although the modeled temperature indicate that the biological activity can be severely limited by low temperatures,” said bi-Bi-si Alison Murray from the desert research Institute of Nevada.
This can provide clues about life beyond Earth.
Dr. Claire cousins from St. Andrews University in Scotland, explains: “Although the chemical composition of these lakes may vary from oceanic environments of the icy satellites like Europe (the sixth satellite of Jupiter), their similar extreme conditions will help to understand how habitable hypersaline subglacial water.”
Ahead of further radar studies, and Anja Rutishauser colleagues and hopes one day to gain access to the waters of the lakes to better understand this ecosystem from the inside.
This could help, says Murray, is to find “the key to understanding the nature of life in such a glacial ocean systems in the Solar system and beyond”.