Russian scientists attempted to drill a hole 3750 metres deep to reach ice-covered Lake Vostok, but failed to make their target by less than 30m when conditions made continuing too dangerous.
So what did they do?
Russian scientists announced that the expedition had to be stopped short because of the encroaching winter. However, the drilling team didn’t want to lose the progress that they’d made—they were just 29.53 m short of their goal—and so dumped kerosene down the 3720-m-long borehole to prevent it from freezing.
The casual dumping of fuel into a 2-mile deep hole in the ice has upset a few people:
Other scientists now worry that the purity of the lake has been ruined, and that the unique ecosystem that lies beneath the ice could be irreversibly damaged.
It’s not like Lake Vostok was that important, it only provides a peek into 400,000 years of temperature and CO2 data. Scientists still disagree about what the data shows, which makes the Russian decision to pour fossil fuels into the area seem a little, well, insensitive.
Wait, did I mention the Russkies did it before?
In a 2007 Russian drilling attempt, when a drill bit broke off, scientists poured anti-freeze into the hole. That expedition was abandoned completely.
Climate scientists – caring for the environment so we don’t have to. Or something.