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UT Research Uncovers Lakes, Signs of Life under Antarctica’s Dry Valleys

A helicopter begins a survey with the airborne electromagnetic sensor at Bull Pass in the Wright Valley, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. (J. Mikucki photo credit)

A helicopter begins a survey with the airborne electromagnetic sensor at Bull Pass in the Wright Valley, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. (J. Mikucki photo credit)

Many view Antarctica as a frozen wasteland. Turns out there are hidden interconnected lakes underneath its dry valleys that could sustain life and shed light on ancient climate change.

Jill Mikucki, a UT microbiology assistant professor, was part of a team that detected extensive salty groundwater networks in Antarctica using a novel airborne electromagnetic mapping sensor system called SkyTEM.

The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, provides compelling evidence that the underground lakes and brine-saturated sediments may support subsurface microbial ecosystems.

The study is published in the current edition of the journal Nature Communications. It is available through open access.

Continue reading at tntoday.utk.edu.