"Scientists have found an ancient ecosystem below an Antarctic glacier and learned that it survived millions of years by transforming sulfur and iron compounds for growth.
Described in the latest issue of Science, the ecosystem lives without light or oxygen in a pool of brine trapped below Taylor Glacier and next to frozen Lake Bonney in eastern Antarctica, said John Priscu, co-author of the Science article. Priscu is a longtime Antarctic researcher and professor in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University.
The ecosystem contains a diversity of bacteria that thrive in cold, salty water loaded with iron and sulfur. The water averages 14 degrees Fahrenheit, but doesn't freeze because the water is three or four times saltier than the ocean.
The scientists made a breakthrough discovery when they learned that the bacteria convert key elements on Earth into food, Priscu said. The bacteria cycle sulfur compounds to access iron in the bedrock."
"Ancient Ecosystem Thrives Millions of Years Below Antarctic Glacier." Space Daily
Ancient Ecosystem Below Antarctic Glacier
"Buried beneath several miles of ice in Antarctica are lakes ranging in size from Lake Ontario to lakes the size of Manhattan. Lake Vostok, the largest subglacial lake on Earth, is believed to harbor ancient life that has been isolated from open exchange with the atmosphere for several million years."
"Ancient Lakes of Antarctica - Living Biological Labs Millions of Years Old." The Daily Galaxy
Ancient Antarctic Lakes
"Scientists have found what they say is the first evidence of a volcanic eruption under the Antarctic ice sheet.
They believe the volcano erupted about 2,000 years ago, and would have burst through its ice covering, producing a burst of steam and rocky debris."
"Ancient Antarctic Eruption Noted." BBC News
Ancient Antarctic Eruption