Entry approach into pristine ice-sealed lakes - Lake Vida, East Antarctica, a model ecosystem

Peter T. Doran, Christian H. Fritsen, Alison E. Murray, Fabien Kenig, Chris P. McKay,Jay D. Kyne

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 6:542-547 (2008) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2008.6.542

ABSTRACT: Ice-sealed lakes, potentially home to novel microbiota and microbial processes, can provide a window into isolated and geologically ancient systems. These habitats are earth analogs for extraterrestrial systems that have yet to be sampled, though potentially harbor, or have harbored life at some time during their past. They are also small-scale models of the numerous sub-glacial lake systems, which have been identified across Antarctica and in Iceland. Methods are needed to sample these ecosystems with environmental stewardship in mind, in which human impact on the ecosystem is mitigated before and during sampling. This report describes an entry and sampling approach that was executed at Lake Vida, East Antarctica, a permanently ice-sealed lake that has never been sampled. Best practice sampling procedures were developed with emphasis on mitigating introduction of trace organics or microbiota to the ecosystem. The conceptual approach is transferable to other isolated pristine aquatic ecosystems on Earth and elsewhere.