The Insanely Deep Layers of Ice Covering Lake Vostok, Visualized

Earlier this month, a team of Russian scientists finally drilled down into Lake Vostok. Everyone was incredibly excited but, how deep can a lake really be, right? Um, it turns out very, very deep, and this visualization lends some perspective.

What I particularly like is the inclusion of the dates in this image published in Nature (see below). It only took two years to drill down 2,500 meters. Comparatively, the final 100 meters took almost four years to complete (though, admittedly, the drill did get stuck).

The Insanely Deep Layers of Ice Covering Lake Vostok, Visualized

It's pretty mind-blowing seeing it drawn out to scale: that is one hell of a deep lake. At those depths, when they finally drilled through, the pressure was enough to see quite a surge of water. From the Nature article:

"When the drill broke through to the lake, water surged roughly 30–40 metres up the borehole, forcing 1.5 cubic metres of drilling fluid out of the top of the hole."

In fact, it's well worth reading the Nature write-up — it's fascinating stuff. [Nature]