Saturday, 18 February 2012

One more day of hard work with good results. We got 1.25 meters in the fourth borehole. The first 40 cm were pure ice followed by permafrost of volcanic ash. Really interesting!!!. Laboratory work confirmed plenty of biomarkers including DNA, on the samples from the previous boreholes. Crossing fingers for same results in the last one. Also some bacteria started to grow.
We had to stop the fourth and last borehole due to other snow storm. We have a terrible storm but we have to recover material from the top of the hill because the Spanish ship Las Palmas will pick us up in two days for crossing Hoces Sea. Going back to Ushuaia. Be tuned…. Others results from Madrid lab will be post on the blog in a near future.
I would like to thank, from here, to the Spanish Army of XXV Spanish campaign to Antarctica with Mr. Casals as major and commander of the Gabriel de Castilla base for their help anymoment of our research. Our work had been impossible to develop without them.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Permafrost in Antarctica

The last two days were really productive. Good weather, not so strong wind and finally we got 1m 52 cm in the third borehole. We decided to drill this third borehole in a permafrost area.  After drilling at high and middle temperature we pretended to get cold temperature to look for psychrophiles. Cold loving bacteria leaving nearby to hot environment (hydrothermal volcanic source), tremendously interesting from an Astrobiology point of view. We had finally to stop drilling due to a very strong snow, but we have identified a very interesting place for a fourth borehole: Glacial ice on the top of a frosted (permafrost) volcanic ash.  Tremendously similar environment to the Martian permafrost basaltic areas. The cross sections will allow us to identify not only psycrophiles but also some mesophiles and thermopiles. These contact environments are possible new places to include in the Trans National Access 1 activity in a possible future Europlanet RI project extension. I will propose it for the future.
Will continue….

Saturday, 11 February 2012

More about Antarctica

Still bad weather around. Finally we decided yesterday to go up to the hill just to continue with the second borehole. We got 60 cm depth at the second point the day before. The second point to be drilled was selected due to the proximity to the fault but not high temperature in the ground. At the very top of the column the temperature was 2 ºC. We started to drill and got 60 cm with 67 ºC. Finally, yesterday we got 1.10 m with 63 ºC at the bottom. 
Samples look like very interesting due to their composition, volcanic ashes with organic matter. Some bugs are growing after culturing them.

Some animals were very interested in us as represented in the picture.