Tuesday, 29 Jul, 2008 Science

Russian Scientists Reached the Bottom of World's Deepest Lake


Russian scientists claim they were able to break the world record for the deepest dive in fresh water. According to Russian news reports, two mini-submarines managed to reach the bottom of the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal, the depth of which is 1,680 meters (5,512ft). But there still hasn't been any official confirmation of the record.

Current mission of the Russian scientists is part of a 2-year plan that aims towards preserving the ecosystem of the lake, which contains nearly 1/5th of the world's fresh water. In 1996 the area around Lake Baikal, located in Siberia, was declared a Unesco World Heritage.

Two major Russian news agencies, Interfax and Itar-Tass, quoted the organizers of the expedition as saying that the two capsules, dubbed Mir I and Mir II, had reached the bottom of Lake Baikal.

"This is a world record for a submarine diving in fresh water," Interfax quoted one of the organizers as saying.

It would be interesting to note that the two mini-submarines are already included in the record books for undersea expeditions, reaching the depths of over 4,000 meters.

Prior to the beginning of the expedition, its leader Artur Chilingarov said that it would be a complex one.

"There are technological problems, fickle weather conditions. Fresh water dictates its own special conditions," he stated.

The two Russian capsules were developed to be able to work in seawater, but scientists had to discard hundreds of kilos from the 18-ton submarines so they would be more buoyant in less dense fresh water.

Environmentalists showed concerns over Russia's presumable goals to exploit the mineral wealth of Lake Baikal. However, expedition leaders insisted that their mission was intended exclusively for research and preservation purposes only.

According to Mr Chilingarov, his team looks forward to arrange "a package of practical measures and recommendations" in order to support the preservation of the lake.

Lake Baikal is located in south-east Siberia, extending on a territory of over 3.15-million-ha. It is world's oldest lake - 25 million years. The lake features an exceptional diversity of endemic flora and fauna, which is of great value to evolutionary science.

Sources: BBC, UNESCO

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