Rich ecosystem discovered under glacier in Antarctica: it survives in total darkness


Glacier / 66 north

Researchers have discovered enormous biodiversity in total darkness under a glacier in Antarctica. This surprised scientists a lot, because it was believed that life could not exist in such a place.

During the study, a hole 192 meters deep was drilled in the pack ice. Underneath was a water cavity 58 meters deep. Another well broke through the ice 190 meters, the water depth under it was 110 meters.

What the researchers found

In this dark and cold place, scientists have discovered an entire ecosystem.

It is strange that we have found so many animal species, most of which feed on phytoplankton, but no plant or algae can live in this environment. So the big question is how do these animals survive and thrive here? The discovery of life in these extreme conditions comes as a total surprise and reminds us how unique and special Antarctic marine life is. The biodiversity we found under the two wells was found to be high even for the high seas and the Antarctic continental shelf, says David Barnes, principal investigator of the project, marine biologist with the British Antarctic Survey.

Under the Antarctic glacier discovered a rich ecosystem: it survives in total darkness

Fragments of bryozoans found on the seabed / Photo Science Alert

Scientists also performed a carbon analysis of the remains of long-dead bryozoans. The oldest was 5,800 years old – that’s how long the ecosystem has existed. Despite the fact that at this time there were times when the glacier surrounding it reached the bottom. The researchers suggest that the phytoplankton were washed away by water flowing far below the ice from areas where there was open water.


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