Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

WIN A NEW HYUNDAI i10 - See the EADT on June 8 for full details

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

Bianca Carpenter who is running the Ipswich half marathon after having to pull out last year because she had cancer.

A young woman who is overcoming breast cancer will be pulling on her running shoes later this year to raise money for charity.

Police searching near the scene where Nahid Almanea's body was found on Salary Brook Trail in Colchester.

A 16-year-old boy accused of killing two people, allegedly stabbing one more than 100 times, was remanded in custody when he appeared in court today.

Colourful houses on Aldeburgh seafront, Suffolk - but who can afford to live here?

Affordable housing is in such short supply in some parts of east Suffolk it is as if communities have been “ethnically cleansed” of less-well-off residents, a community leader claims.

A road in west Suffolk has been closed following an accident involving a car and a motorcycle.

An elderly man has been robbed in his own home after a gang of men broke in and attacked him.

The new incinerator at Great Blakenham.

Suffolk’s deal to take 40,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from Norfolk County Council has been extended for another four years – until 2020.

Firefighters are using specialist cutting gear to free a woman trapped after a two-car crash in Clacton today.

Saxmundham Police Station is set to become a community hub.

A project to turn a town’s police station into a community hub has taken a huge step forward with the agreement of a deal to buy the building.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court

A teenager who broke another young man’s nose during an early morning altercation near an Ipswich nightspot has been given a community order.

Singer Ed Sheeran, left, unveils his wax figure at Madame Tussauds in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Suffolk superstar Ed Sheeran has come face to face with a waxwork impression of himself.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages