Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM
The Science and Exploration of Pavilion Lake, Canada: A View to the Past and Our Future
Pavilion Lake, Canada is a groundwater fed lake that is lined with microbialite structures at depths of 5 to 60 meters. This lake has become the focus of the Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP), which is an on-going, multi-disciplinary science effort to understand the existence of unusual microbialites in Pavilion Lake. This project forms part of a NASA-UBC led effort to investigate the analog potential of terrestrial lacustrine carbonates to early Earth and potentially other planetary systems. The PLRP has been using conventional SCUBA to sample and explore the lake, however we have been stymied in our efforts to map the extent and morphological variability of microbialites in Pavilion Lake due to the lake's size (5.8 km long) and depth (Zmax = 65m). Mapping the unusual morphologies to environmental conditions in Pavilion Lake will have a significant bearing on our understanding of their morphogenesis and our interpretation of ancient microbialite fabrics. To overcome our exploration challenges and to meet our science goals, the PLRP has partnered with Nutyco Research to use one-person, DeepWorker submersibles in Pavilion Lake. DeepWorkers allow PLRP researchers to map the lake to its deepest sections, as well as retrieve deep water microbialite samples from 60m. Our science based exploration efforts are also being used as a means to develop extravehicular activity (EVA) and science success metrics for Moon and Mars human exploration. These efforts are considered to be a unique opportunity to advance human exploration of the Moon and Mars, by combining scientific research on life in extreme environments with high fidelity training in an underwater field setting. This presentation will provide an overview of the limnology of Pavilion Lake, and discuss the submersible activities at Pavilion Lake during the June 2008 field season.