MOSCOW  - Russian researchers said Monday that they had succeeded in drilling through four kilometres (2.5 miles) of ice to the surface of a subglacial Antarctic lake which could yield important scientific discoveries.

Lake Vostok is the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica and scientists want to study its eco-system which has been isolated for hundreds of thousands of years under the ice in the hope of finding previously unknown microbiological life forms. “Our scientists completed drilling at a depth of 3,768 metres and reached the surface of the subglacial lake,” an unnamed source told Russian news agency RIA Novosti. Sergei Lesenkov, spokesman for the Arctic and Antarctic Scientific Research Institute, told AFP that there was the possibility of a “fundamental scientific development”. Lesenkov said that analysis of the composition of gas bubbles discovered in the ice above the lake could help climate change research.