Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Antarctic mission called off

08:00 28 December 2012

Prof Martin Siegert (far left) and his team when they arrived in Antarctica for the mission

Prof Martin Siegert (far left) and his team when they arrived in Antarctica for the mission

BAS

A PIONEERING scientific mission in Antarctica described as one of the “most exciting and ambitious” explorations of our time, has been called off by the Suffolk glaciologist leading the experiment.

shares

The project’s principal investigator Martin Siegert, from Glemsford, confirmed that his team had been forced to abandon the landmark mission to drill through 3km of solid ice into subglacial Lake Ellsworth because of technical problems.

The aim was to lower a titanium water-sampling probe and sediment corer through a borehole cut through the ice by a specially-made hot-water drill, to search for life forms in the water below and sift through lake-bed sediments for clues about former climates.

The team initially anticipated breaking through the ice on December 15 but they experienced glitches with the boiler used to heat water for drilling. The work recommenced in the run up to Christmas after a replacement part was fitted, but Prof Siegert confirmed that drilling had stopped after the team was unable to form a water-filled cavity 300 metres beneath the ice to link the main borehole with a secondary borehole.

After more than 20 hours attempting to establish the cavity link, fuel stocks were depleted and rendered the remaining operation unviable, so the team had no option but to discontinue the programme for this season.

From Antarctica, Prof Siegert said: “This is of course, hugely frustrating for us, but we have learned a lot this year. By the end the equipment was working well, and much of it has now been fully field tested. A full report on the field season will be compiled when the engineers and programme manager return to UK.”

The former Sudbury Upper School student, whose brother Peter and mother Kath Siegert still live in the Sudbury area, has spent 16 years researching and preparing for the project. He added: “Sixteen years ago, we hypothesised that deep-water subglacial lakes are viable habitats for life and contain important records of ice and climate history.

“For now, these hypotheses remain untested. Once back in the UK I will gather our consortium to seek ways in which our research efforts may continue. I remain confident that we will unlock the secrets of Lake Ellsworth in coming seasons.”

The Lake Ellsworth Consortium is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. It features researchers and scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, the National Oceanography Centre and nine UK universities.

shares

0 comments

Woodbridge Thoroughfare

A fashion retailer looks set to open a new store in the heart of a Suffolk market town.

Sunset over Drinkstone - Pamela Bidwell

The sun going down over Suffolk is always a bewitching scene, with shadows cast over some of our most iconic landmarks and a warm glow burning behind.

Michael Leaberry

Police in Wales have launched an appeal to find a man wanted in connection with child sex offences, who is known to have links in Ipswich, Suffolk and Essex.

Thomson's first flight from Stansted Airport to Cancun, using the Dreamliner, was today. Picture: Tony Pick Photography

The first Dreamliner plane jetted off from Stansted Airport yesterday as part of a new route to Mexico.

Views of Halesworth ,Suffolk.

A prank which saw fake out of order stickers placed onto payment machines in a north Suffolk car park last week could have lost Waveney District Council revenue.

Hundreds of flowers and messages have been placed on the fence around Thurston Community College after a pupil died from a shooting.

Thousands of pounds have been raised in the wake of the tragic death of a 13-year-old Thurston boy, with the Suffolk community rallying together to support the family.

Hollesley Bay Colony

A war of words has broken out amid allegations of a ‘disgraceful coup’ aimed at ousting the chairman of Hollesley Bay open prison’s Independent Monitoring Board.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24