Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : This review paper is mainly concerned with a geochemical investigation of the deepest part of the Vostok ice core between 3310 m, the depth at which the palaeoenvironmental record present in the ice above is lost, and the bottom of the core about 130 m above subglacial Lake Vostok. Two sections constitute this part of the core. The upper section (3310-3539 m depth) still consists of ice of meteoric origin but subjected to widespread complex deformation. This deformation is analysed in light of a δD-deuterium excess diagram and information on microparticles, crystal sizes and chemical elements distributions in that part of the core. Such ice deformation occurred when the ice was still grounded upstream from Vostok station in a region with subfreezing temperatures. The lower section from 3539 m to the bottom of the core at 3623 m depth is lake ice formed by freezing of subglacial Lake Vostok waters. This is indicated by the isotopic properties (δD, δ18O and deuterium excess), by electrical conductivity measurements (ECM), crystallography and gas content of the ice. These ice core data together with data on ionic chemistry favour an origin of the lake ice by frazil ice generation in a supercooled (below pressure melting point) water plume existing in the lake followed by accretion and consolidation by subsequent freezing of the host water. The helium profile of this deepest part of the Vostok core is quite unusual and surprising. It has important implications for the interactions between the ice sheet and the lake. Two constrasting scenarios can be satisfactorily constructed so that the lake residence time is not well constrained. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.