The DSRVs Mir-1 and Mir-2 set a new world record in deep sea descent, diving to a depth of 1,680 metres (5,511 feet). Therefore, the DSRVs have now established the depth of Lake Baikal at 1,680 metres (5,511 feet) instead of the previously thought 1,637 metres (5,370 feet). The scientific experiments involving both DSRVs will last for 2 years, during which time the DSRVs will dive several times in different parts of Lake Baikal, checking its plant and animal life and the tectonic process occurring on Baikal’s lakebed. Setting a world record is but a step in the study of the world’s deepest fresh-water lake, said Anatoly Sagalevich, leader of the current expedition. “Our programme includes the study of Baikal’s geological structure, slopes, and base. We will thoroughly study the known hydrothermal discharge on the lakebed in the form of methane emissions, Professor Sagalevich said. “Quite possibly, we will find something else. We have talked about gas hydrates; it is an interesting topic; it has vast reserves. It will also be among our items of study”, he said.
The Russian DSRVs descended to the bed of the fresh-water lake for the first time ever, but, they have made more than 800 dives in the open sea, examined 20 hydrothermal fields, and discovered about a 1,000 hitherto-unknown animal species as well as plants. The DSRVs have also taken part in the filming of several movies and helped in the investigation of the hulk of the Titanic lying at a depth of 3,800 metres (12,467 feet). The picture of the ship, which went down a century ago, was used in James Cameron’s film Titanic.
Last year, as part of the Arctic-2007 expedition, the DSRVs descended for the first time ever to the seabed of Northern Arctic Ocean, going down to a depth of 4,200 metres (13,779 feet). This year, they will make 60 dives in Lake Baikal and about a 100 more next year. Scientists from the Prince Albert II Scientific Foundation in Monaco, UN representatives, and scientists from institutes in America and Japan will be joining their Russian colleagues for this year’s expeditions.
29 July 2008
Voice of Russia World Service