…and then they took off their boots and ran screaming onto the ice

Not saying that I have any idea what might live (or eternal lie) in a lake sealed for many millions of years under over a kilometer of glacial ice. Just, you know, if I had something that I really wanted to stay buried then one of those Antarctic lakes is where I would put it. Failing that it would be cool if our guys pulled up some very unusual bacteria, sponges or maneating tube worms like in the old GI Joe cartoon.

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117 replies
  1. 1
    Cassidy says:

    Saw this movie. Didn’t end well.

  2. 2
    ruemara says:

    I think I’ve seen an X-Files episode about this. It doesn’t end well. However, if we unleash an Elder God, I’m hoping we get powers. Totally rolling druid. Again.

  3. 3
    General Stuck says:

    Maybe they’ll find Jimmy Hoffa

  4. 4
    General Stuck says:


    That may have been the tiny buzzing critters unleashed from a very old Redwood tree cut down by loggers. One of my fav early episodes. With Mulder and Scully locking themselves into a cabin for safety and maybe some hanky panky.

  5. 5
    cathyx says:

    You think it would be cool if they pulled up some very unusual bacteria, sponges or maneating tube worms? You’re thinking too small. I think it would be cool if they pulled up an alien space ship with technology we’ve never seen before.

  6. 6
    Scott S. says:

    I’ve got my tentacles crossed for shoggoths…

  7. 7
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Go, go Godzilla

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    I’m rooting (as ever…) for a magnetic monopole, or maybe the magnetic monopole. Did you know that there only has to be one, and then all charges are quantized?

  9. 9
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Wasn’t that the plot of “The Thing”?

  10. 10
    Comrade Mary says:

    Hey, do you want to read or hear the classic story from the perspective of the alien?

    The Things, by Peter Watts. You’re welcome! (And if you like it, you can pay the author / feed the cat / check out all his other stuff available online here.)

  11. 11
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Read that story. Yeah, this doesn’t end well for anyone. Let The Great Ones lie.

  12. 12
    The Pale Scot says:

    Submitted for your inspection, (inhales cigarette)

    The Mysterious Death of Nine Campers in Russia’s Dyatlov Pass

    ‘In 1959, ten normal, healthy cross-country skiers set off on a camping trip in Russia’s Ural Mountains. Nine never returned. When their bodies were finally found, many elements of eerie mystery hung heavily in the air. Three of the individuals had fallen victim to inexplicable crushing injuries. The tongue of one of the others was missing.’

  13. 13
    NotMax says:

    That Stargate is around here somewhere…

    Dibs on the brand name Aqua Antarctica.

  14. 14
    Woodrowfan says:

    good thing the Blob was dropped on the North Pole instead.

  15. 15
    redshirt says:

    That black ooze is NOT Texas Tea.

  16. 16
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @cathyx: Can’t fit that through the hole.

  17. 17
    ruemara says:

    @General Stuck: No the one where the alien spores would control people in an arctic research station. I always thought the fully grown spores bursting through their throats looked like asparagus. That’s me, come the alien apocalypse, I’m considering if it’s just a rampant food crop.

  18. 18
    Mike E says:

    Somebody owes Stephen King royalties. If you’ve written as much as that dude, then all possible scenarios are covered.

  19. 19
    dmsilev says:

    @Scott S.:

    I’ve got my tentacles crossed for shoggoths…

    Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

  20. 20
    Anonymous At Work says:

    Nah, they’ll find the canister from the end of the original The Blob.

  21. 21
    General Stuck says:


    I only vaguely remember that one. Maybe it’s been long enough to re watch the X files for a new experience.

  22. 22
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Comrade Mary:
    There is also “A Colder War” (C. Stross), sort of an alt-history with Oliver North, Stephan J. Gould, and the Old Ones.

  23. 23
    NotMax says:


    IIRC, Mulder has a cute line in that episode.

    They all have to totally strip down to be examined, and just beforehand he goes out of his way to remind everyone not to judge because it is is very, very cold.

  24. 24
    Joe Max says:

    “It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be left alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.”
    ― H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

  25. 25

    @ruemara: @General Stuck:

    Actually it wasn’t an arctic research station, it was a volcanic research station where the thingy exploded from the throat. (Extreme X-phile here)

  26. 26
    electricgrendel says:

    I grow weary of the pedesteian evils of the current world. Bring forth thawed cthonic horrors!

  27. 27
    Jay in Oregon says:

    Speaking of G.I. Joe and John Carpenter’s The Thing: here’s a clever homage to the latter, using the former.


  28. 28
    different-church-lady says:

    “Smilla’s Sense of Snow.”

    I keep saying it, people keep ignoring it.

  29. 29
    Scott S. says:

    The mind-melting, non-Euclidian blasphemy of the Great Old Ones still makes more sense than the Modern GOP.

  30. 30
    Peter says:

    The arctic station one was with a parasite that controlled the host and mimicked its normal actions perfectly. Season one. Damn good episode even if it was basically a tamer version of The Thing.

  31. 31
    RSA says:

    I hope no one finds a Deadly Mantis.

  32. 32
    NotMax says:

    Bartender, no ice-nine in my drink, por favor.

  33. 33
    Wag says:

    You do NOT want to be the only guy at the research station wearing a red shirt when they break through two the lake. Expendable crewmen never come back.

  34. 34
    Robin G. says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Yup. There was also an episode with the tree bugs, but the episode that most mimics the OP story is “Ice” from S1, with the worms that live in the brain and feed off of aggression hormones, causing the host to go mad and kill everyone. “We are not who we are.”

    Seen that episode a few times. *cough*

  35. 35
    redshirt says:

    @Wag: Redshirts are in Command, now. Thank you, Jean Luc!

    Also, the science behind this drilling is cool, as it has many ramifications for astrobiology. If there are critters living way down in this lake, then the odds of little critters living in the oceans of Europa or Titan go up.

  36. 36
    Poopyman says:

    You people are thinking way too small. What if they exhume Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer!

  37. 37
    Wag says:


    That was a good one.

  38. 38
    Alex S. says:

    It’s interesting how many things our pop culture suspects there to be. My first connection was Aliens vs. Predator.

  39. 39
    Peter says:

    @Robin G.: Hey, there’s no shame in wanting to see Mulder with his shirt off. Duchovny is an attractive man.

  40. 40
    PaulW says:

    X-Files: Ice was the arctic homage to The Thing where a worm parasite infected hosts and upped their rage, and their blood was the carrier. The cure was to grow a worm separately in a container and then re-infect the host, because the worms were in conflict with each other and would kill each other inside the same body. The final scene was one scientist telling Mulder and Scully that the arctic base was napalmed to ensure the worms stayed buried.

    Another episode was where a team of geologists using a heat-resistant mining robot near a thermal vent unleashed a silicon-based spore that burst out of their necks to spread further infection.

  41. 41
    NotMax says:

    OT: The Price of palin: $15.85 per word, when 2¢ would have been grossly overpaying.

  42. 42
    raven says:

    My flesh eating beetle colony is progressing well.

  43. 43
    aimai says:

    Night of the Lepus!

    Also, I think that the Thing in the first Arctic horror movie that I remember was really a giant carrot. Or am I misremembering?

  44. 44
    ruemara says:

    @aimai: You are correct.

  45. 45
    gbear says:

    Question: wouldn’t these underground lakes be under enormous pressure due to the weight of all the ice above? When they complete the drill hole to the lake, wouldn’t the pressure be released as an enormous geiser of lake water up the hole to the surface?

    A guy I used to work with and his friends would apply this science by driving two heavy 60’s cars down a frozen lake and passing on either side of an ice fishing house. Hilarity would ensue when the fishermen came flying out the fishhouse, soaking wet.

  46. 46
    different-church-lady says:

    @aimai: Otherwise known as “Dawn of the Living Squeee!”

  47. 47
    Woodrowfan says:

    no mention of secret Nazi UFO bases? whatever happened to the classics??

  48. 48
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @raven: #42

    My flesh eating beetle colony is progressing well.

    And you didn’t even have to travel to the Antarctic!

  49. 49
    Woodrowfan says:

    @aimai: That’s MARSHAL Carrot!

  50. 50

    Or a plant monster that look suspiciously like James Arness….

  51. 51
    raven says:

    @Linda Featheringill: They delivered them!

  52. 52
    Amir Khalid says:

    The episode in the Arctic research station is indeed Ice, as Robin G says. The asparagus spores bursting out through people’s throats are from season 2’s Firewalker. They’re from inside a volcano, not from outer space. (It was Gillian Anderson’s first full episode back from maternity leave. How time flies; her daughter is now 18.) The little swarming critters from inside the tree is from Season 1’s Darkness Falls.

    I see I’m not the only X-Phile here.

  53. 53


    But the North Polar ice cap is melting!

  54. 54
    ruemara says:

    @Amir Khalid: God y’all. Back off. I love X-files too, but it’s not damned religious canon. And even if it is, back off.

  55. 55

    @Scott S.:

    SpongeBob SquarePants makes more sense than the modern GOP….

  56. 56
    different-church-lady says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    The asparagus spores bursting out through people’s throats are from season 2′s Firewalker. They’re from inside a volcano, not from outer space. (It was Gillian Anderson’s first full episode back from maternity leave.

    The analogies write themselves…

  57. 57
    Amir Khalid says:

    “Not religious canon”, you say? Where’s my fainting couch?

  58. 58
    NotMax says:


    The procedure does not involve an open miles-deep hole, rather a series of drillings going ever deeper over years, each allowed to freeze up during non-drilling season.

    Short version is that the water is then allowed up only so far and then permitted to freeze. Then that ice core is removed for study, but leaving a plug below.

    This also avoids having surface equipment make direct contact with the water, substantially reducing chance of pollution.

  59. 59
    Jay in Oregon says:

    H.P. Lovecraft predates WWII so technically he is a classic.

  60. 60


    The secret Nazi UFO bases are on the moon.

  61. 61
    handsmile says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    Thanks for such an interesting link! I had never heard of this grisly incident, one that is likely to remain unsolved. The Wikipedia entry on the “Dyatlov Pass Incident” links to an article that filmmaker Renny Harlin is developing a project based on the mystery.

    @ Tim F.:

    I find this kind of sub-glacial “time capsule” research really fascinating, even beyond its potential for inspiring science fiction. Last year I was following accounts of the Russian research scientists’ successful drilling to Antarctica’s Lake Vostok, more than 2.3 miles down from the surface and isolated for 15m years. This linked article quotes the leader of the American expedition, John Priscu, on what these several projects may reveal:


  62. 62
    DFH no.6 says:

    ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

    As Tim eluded to, of course, and some others here have noted.

    Be eaten first, I say.

  63. 63
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Patricia Kayden: You mean “Aliens on Ice”?

  64. 64
    ruemara says:

    @The Pale Scot: I read the whole thing. In addition to being freaked out, I also now wish to go investigate the area. Good thing I’m allergic to ball freezing cold. And Russians.

  65. 65
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy: HA! That’s what they want you to think! Don’t be a sheeple!

  66. 66
    muddy says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Can’t fit that through the hole.

    Size-ist! They could be microscopic aliens, who still have more tech/power than we do.

  67. 67
    different-church-lady says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy: Oh hell, those haven’t been secret for years.

  68. 68
    different-church-lady says:

    @DFH no.6:

    ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

    Is that another one of Scott Brown’s late night tweets?

  69. 69
    Joel says:

    I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why. It is altogether against my will that I tell my reasons for opposing this contemplated invasion of the antarctic—with its vast fossil-hunt and its wholesale boring and melting of the ancient ice-cap….

  70. 70
    NotMax says:


    who still have more tech/power than we do.

    But none which can penetrate ice, presumably.

  71. 71
    NotMax says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy

    Adolf Barada Nikto.

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    Sorry to be a spoilsport, but it was an avalanche.

  73. 73
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Im an ancient lake

  74. 74
    Linnaeus says:

    I was hoping someone would make the link to (John Carpenter’s) The Thing.

    As for Cthulhu, anyone remember Tales of the Plush Cthulhu?

  75. 75
    Schlemizel says:

    I’m pulling for Cthulhu. Unleashing an evil greater than what is already here seems like the best path at this point in human history.

    Phnglui mglw nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah nagl fhtagn

  76. 76
    Culture of Truth says:

    why is the lake unfrozen?

  77. 77
    ruemara says:

    @Culture of Truth: Alien anti-freeze.

  78. 78
    NotMax says:


    True story.

    Friend of mine has a Carl Cthulhu toy whose red eyes flash on and off.

    His paramour has 9 cats.

    When he sets Carl on the floor and switches it on, the cats get into a semi-circle in front of Carl, all lying down with front paws outstretched, all intently staring at Carl.


  79. 79
    Linnaeus says:


    Whoa. I think that Carl Cthulhu should not be turned on ever again. Something’s up.

  80. 80
    David Hunt says:


    No. Unfortunately, the modern GOP is not defined by the inhuman horror of Lovecraft, but by the entirely human horror of Orwell..

  81. 81
    redshirt says:

    @Culture of Truth: Because it’s under high pressure.

  82. 82
    The Dangerman says:

    Under the ice will be Mitt Romney’s taxes and/or Anne’s sense of humility.

  83. 83
    muddy says:

    @NotMax: They could get out if they wanted to. They are hiding and monitoring us, in a place they thought we wouldn’t go. I picture them similar to those science hides on ST:TNG, where they use a hologram as camo and spy on pre-warp cultures.

    This does show they do not yet understand our species, however, as of course we *will* go to all the places. That’s just the kind of hairpins we are. Or maybe they do understand, but like wildlife photographers they have to let us go ahead and kill/eat each other for the sake of natural science.

  84. 84
    Yutsano says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Anne’s sense of humility

    Unpossible. There is no sign any such thing ever existed.

  85. 85
    ruemara says:

    @Mnemosyne: I counter this with “5 ways you are making everyone hate you“. Number 1, killing our dreams of aliens and Cthulu so fast.

  86. 86
    WereBear says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Love that movie. Even developed a belated fondness for the Carpenter remake.

  87. 87
    Gravenstone says:


    then the odds of little critters living in the oceans of Europa or Titan go up.

    All these worlds are yours, save Europa. Attempt no landings there.

  88. 88
    NotMax says:


    They could get out if they wanted to. They are hiding and monitoring us

    That’s got to be the low end of the totem pole in the alien job market.

  89. 89
    ruemara says:

    @NotMax: Pretty sure the benefits are good. All the hikers you can eat.

  90. 90
    Roger Moore says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    why is the lake unfrozen?

    IIRC, it’s because of the immense pressure of the ice above it. Because water is denser than ice, increasing the pressure lowers the melting point a little bit. When you have enough weight of ice, the pressure is enough to cause the layer at the bottom to melt. Also, too, the ice is a fairly effective insulator, so the bottom of the glacier is warmer than the top because of geothermal heating. Wikipedia says it’s about -3°C.

  91. 91
    scav says:

    @ruemara: well, hikers might be a bit stringy, but if one likes that texture . . .

  92. 92
    muddy says:

    @ruemara: Also scientists!

  93. 93
    johnny aquitard says:

    I, for one, welcome our tubeworm overlords.

  94. 94

    @johnny aquitard:

    I, on the other had, would not like to see the GOP acquire more power…

  95. 95
    Jay C says:


    That’s got to be the low end of the totem pole in the alien job market.

    So it’s probably being done by undocumented aliens….

  96. 96
    Kristine says:

    @handsmile and @palescot: A poster on a skeptic’s site posits that avalanche, or fear of one, precipitated the incident.

    Love a mystery….

  97. 97
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Which episode was it where they had to maintain some kind of light to keep the creatures from attacking? Mulder (or somebody) clumsily smacked something against the one remaining, swaying-on-a-cord light bulb; for an instant you didn’t know if it was broken or not, and my “X-Files” group collectively shrieked.

  98. 98
    gbear says:

    @muddy: Microscopic Chinese.

  99. 99
    Carnacki says:

    “It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be left alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.”
    ― H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror

  100. 100
    Kristine says:

    @Linnaeus: I LOVED Tales of Plush Cthulhu! Must go back and read.

    fan of Professor Blue Smush DinoBaby

  101. 101
    S. cerevisiae says:

    Just release the Old Ones already.

  102. 102
    The Pale Scot says:

    @Mnemosyne: Possibly, but the S&R teams didn’t report evidence of an avalanche. The bodies in the ravine might have been victims of one, but i would assume that soviet bureaucracy would have jumped on any evidence of an avalanche.

  103. 103
    Hungry Joe says:

    I read Lovecraft in my early 20s and liked him a lot, but when I tried to re-read his stuff a few years ago I found the prose, which had once enthralled me, way too florid; it was silly, then tiresome. The creepiness still creeped, though.

    Lovecraft was an exceedingly strange man. Virulent racist, even for his times. He once wrote (my asterisk edits), “Of course, they can’t let N*****s use the beach at a Southern resort – can you imagine sensitive persons bathing near a pack of greasy chimpanzees? The only thing that makes life endurable where Blacks abound is the Jim Crow principle, and I wish they’d apply it in New York both to N*****s and to the more Asiatic types of puffy, rat-faced Jews.”

    Cthulhu Mythos, indeed.

  104. 104
    andy says:

    I’m hoping for Reptilicus.

  105. 105
    ruemara says:

    @Hungry Joe: So, he was a Tea Party candidate before there was a Tea Party? Good to know.

  106. 106
    Wag says:


    My uncle worked as a rabbit herder for the movie. Good job for kid in AZ.

  107. 107
    Peter says:

    @Hungry Joe: That was the treebug episode.

  108. 108
    joel hanes says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    why is the lake unfrozen?

    Two facts:

    1. heat from earth’s core seeps slowly out everywhere; even in Antarctica, a deep enough mine will be warm

    2. ice floats

  109. 109
    John M. Burt says:

    Alas, for all the fun everybody’s having, the sad truth is that as usual, we are far more dangerous to them than vice versa.*

    We are about to contaminate the most isolated, alien environment between here and Europa.


  110. 110
    joel hanes says:

    For you “immense pressure” theorists :

    Measure the pressure at the bottom of the lake.
    Then carefully build a vertical, waterproof wall from bedrock up to daylight all around the margin of the lake. Heat the lake to melt the ice. Measure the pressure at the bottom of the lake: it will be the same as the initial measurement.

    In other words, the water in the lake is under no more pressure than if the overlying ice were liquid instead of solid.

    Also: if they drilled a borehole all the way down to the water, it would not fountain; the water would rise to a level somewhat short of the surface of the ice, just as it does in every ice-fishing shack, because ice is less dense than water.

  111. 111
    Hungry Joe says:

    @andy: I saw “Reptilicus” in the mid-1960s, on Channel 10 in San Diego. Best part: The after-school S-F/horror show was hosted by Moona Lisa, and cleavage was in.

  112. 112
    Maude says:

    I really wish every single person would just leave Antarctica. They are destroying it and bothering the penguins. They fly out ton and tons of garbage. They used to dump it in the ocean until Greenpeace sat in a ship off the coast until they stopped it.

  113. 113
    Sasha says:

    Tekilili! Tekilili!

  114. 114
    handsmile says:


    I’m not unsympathetic to your sentiment here, but I believe that the despoiling consequences of the human imperative to explore and research can and must be addressed by greater and more effective environmental awareness and public policies. Organizations like Greenpeace and Bill McKibben’s 350.org are in the vanguard of that mission.

    A spectacular and poignant documentary film that touches upon many aspects of the relationship between the scientific community and Antarctica is Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World (2007). Highly recommended if you’ve not seen it.


  115. 115
  116. 116
    mclaren says:

    My money is still on a mysterious loss of radio communication with the drill team, after which rescue teams find the camp destroyed and the people and dogs missing, and tentacle marks in the ice leading away to the Mountains of Madness…

    Cthulhu ftagn rlyeh!

  117. 117
    priscianusjr says:

    Don’t hold your breath. No life of any kind was found in Lake Vostok.

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