December 1, 2008
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Home / Issue Archive / 2008 / July #7 / Scientists find oil fissure in Lake Baikal's bedrock

№ 7 (July 2008)

Scientists find oil fissure in Lake Baikal's bedrock

Scientists have located a crack in the bedrock of Siberia's Lake Baikal from which crude oil seeps into the lake, and have discovered a range of organisms living in the oil, an expedition member said on Thursday...

By RIA Novosti http://en.rian.ru/science/20080807/115862707.html

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Scientists find oil fissure in Lake Baikal's bedrock

Scientists have located a crack in the bedrock of Siberia's Lake Baikal from which crude oil seeps into the lake, and have discovered a range of organisms living in the oil, an expedition member said on Thursday.

Researchers, who are currently examining the processes through which microbes in the world's deepest lake digest petroleum that naturally enters the water, conducted deep water dives on Monday and Wednesday to locate the oil source.

Dr. Mikhail Grachyov, an expert on the molecular evolution of Baikal's animal and plant life, said the source was found at a depth of around 850 meters (2,800 feet) to the south of Barguzin Bay, and that samples of the oil had been taken.

"It turns out that a large number of organisms live in this oil. This will require a huge amount of study," he told RIA Novosti.  "We will study everything - the oil, the means through which it is broken down, the microbes, physical characteristics, and so on. This is necessary both for fundamental science and for practical goals."

Research into Baikal's oil may provide new insights into the origins of petroleum, Dr. Grachyov commented.

Baikal is the world's oldest lake, with an age estimated at 25 million years. Scientists taking part in the current expedition, during which 160 deep water dives are planned over the next two years, have stressed that research is not aimed at exploiting possible oil and gas reserves, but at protecting Baikal's unique ecosystem.

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