UANT Outreach: Vostok Station Campus

 

 

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VITAL STATISTICS: Est. 1957, Students, researchers: 65

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Vostok Station is located exactly at Magnetic South (the geomagnetic South Pole). It was begun by Soviet researchers in 1957, and like Amundsen-Scott at geographic South, is very remote in the interior of the continent. In fact the Vostok campus is the most isolated place in Antarctica. It is also the coldest. While the coldest inhabited city on Earth is Verkhoyansk in Siberia, Vostok is the coldest place on Earth period, with an all time planetary record low of −89.2 C (−128.56 F), recorded in 1983. The Russians, it seems, were not to be outdone in freezing weather in Antarctica either. Students beware! Not surprisingly, it is a centre of geomagnetic studies, geophysics and climatology.

UANT is proud of its multicultural campus traditions

Vostok has a network of caves dug into the ice, which are surprisingly temperate, heated by the power cores that energize the self-sufficient station. There are also living quarters, of course, and research labs. The distinctive striped sphere in the picture above (center-right) is a meteorology lab.

UANT trucks at Vostok bring much needed supplies

Vostok Station also drills deep into the ice- over 2500 m in some places, to study the history of the Antarctic ice. The results caused widespread acclaim both at UANT and in the worldwide scientific community: 420,000 years of ice-stratigraphy were analyzed, covering many cycles of glaciation. Another discovery was even more interesting: a large subglacial lake, called today Lake Vostok, was found in 1996. It is located directly underneath Vostok Station, 4,000 m under the ice. It is the largest subglacial lake in the world, and may hold secrets long frozen from times when Antarctica was not covered with ice. Drilling was stopped to prevent contamination of this valuable discovery, which also ensures Vostok, despite its remoteness, will attract UANT students and researchers for a long time to come.

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