International Drilling Planned at

El’gygytgyn Crater Lake, NE Russia

UMass Amherst Chief Scientist:
Brigham-Grette, Julie, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003 USA; US Chief Scientist:;

Other collaborating Chief Scientists:

Martin Melles, Institute for Geology and Geophysics, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, GERMANY;

Pavel Minyuk, North-East Interdisciplinary Science Research Institute FEB RAS, 685000, Magadan, 16 Portovaya St., RUSSIA;

Christian Koeberl, Center for Earth Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, AUSTRIA.



Sediment piston cores from Lake El'gygytgyn (67°N, 172 °E), a 3.6 million year old meteorite impact crater in northeastern Siberia, have been analyzed to extract a multi-proxy millennial-scale climate record extending to nearly 250 ka, with distinct fluctuations in sedimentological, physical, biochemical, and paleoecological parameters. Five major themes have emerged from this Earth System History research making “ Lake E” a world-class target for drilling by the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP). First the pilot cores and seismic data show that El’gygytygn Crater Lake contains what is expected to be the longest, most continuous terrestrial record of past climate change in the entire Arctic back to the time of impact. Second, processes operating in the El’gygytygn basin (e.g., seasonal lake ice cover controls on anoxia of the hypolimnion) lead to changes in the limnogeology and the biogeochemistry that reflect robust changes in the regional climate and paleoecology over a large part of the western Arctic. Third, the magnetic susceptibility and other proxies record numerous rapid change events. The recovered lake sediment contains both the best-resolved record of the last interglacial and the longest terrestrial record of millennial scale climate change in the Arctic, yielding a high fidelity multi-proxy record extending nearly 150,000 years beyond what has been obtained from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Fourth, the potential for evaluating teleconnections under different mean climate states is high. Despite the heterogeneous nature of recent Arctic climate change, millennial scale climate events in the North Atlantic/Greenland region are recorded in the most distal regions of the Arctic under variable boundary conditions. And finally, deep drilling of the complete depositional record in Lake El’gygytgyn will offer new insights and, perhaps, surprises into the late Cenozoic evolution of Arctic climate.

Drilling is now planned for Spring 2008. Our goal is to collect and interpret the longest time-continuous record of climate change in the terrestrial Arctic and compare this record with those from lower latitude marine and terrestrial sites to better understand hemispheric and global climate change. Coring objectives include 2 replicate overlapping cores of 410 m and 330 m length at 2 sites (four cores total) near the deepest part of the lake. One additional land-based core to ca. 200 m on lake sediments now overlain by frozen alluvial sediments on the lake-shore will allow us to better understand sediment supply to the lake and spatial depositional heterogeneity since the time of impact.


Lake E is located in northeastern Siberia and is indicated by the red star.


These sediments will provide a unique Arctic record capturing the mechanisms and dynamics of glacial/interglacial and millennial-scale change over the duration of the “41 ka world” and late Cenozoic “100 ka world” for comparison with other long records from the N. Atlantic, N. Pacific, and most recently the Arctic Ocean. This record will also provide insight as to whether rapid change events identified during the last glacial cycle are typical of earlier glacial periods. This core will also include sediments deposited a million years prior to the first major glaciation of the Northern Hemisphere. Thus, these records will allow us to address questions concerning the evolution and mode of Arctic climate change via the transition from the warm middle Pliocene to the onset of major Northern Hemisphere glaciation at millennial-scale temporal resolution.


Publications from Pre-site Survey Research:

Asikainen C.A., Francus, P. and Brigham-Grette, J. 2007. Sediment Fabric, Clay mineralogy, and grain-size as indicators of climate change since 65 ka from El’gygytgyn Crater Lake, Northeastern Siberia. J. Paleolim. 37.

Brigham-Grette, J., Melles, M., Minyuk P. and Scientific Party. 2007. Overview and Significance of a 250 ka Paleoclimate Record from El’gygytgyn Crater Lake, NE Russia. J. Paleolim. 37.

Cherepanova, M.V., and Snyder, J., and Brigham-Grette, J., 2007, Diatom stratigraphy of the past 250 ka from Elgygytgyn Lake sediments, northeastern Russia. J. Paleolim. 37

Forman, S., Pierson, J., Gomez, J., Brigham-Grette, J., Nowaczyk, N. R, Melles, M. 2007. Luminescence geochronology for sediments from Lake El’gygytgyn, northeast Siberia, Russia: Constraining the timing of paleoenvironmental events for the past 200 ka. J. Paleolim. 37.

Glushkova, O. Yu., and Smirnov, V.N. 2007. Pliocene to Holocene Geomorphic Evolution and paleogeography of the Elgygytgyn Lake region, NE Russia. J. Paleolim. 37.

Lozkhin, A.V., Anderson, P.M., Matrosova, T.V. and Minyuk, P. 2007. Vegetation and Climate Histories of El’gygytgyn Lake, Northeast Siberia. J. Paleolim. 37.

Melles M., Brigham-Grette J., Glushkova, O.Yu., Minyuk P., Nowaczyk N. and Hubberten H.-W, 2007. Sedimentary geochemistry of a pilot core from Lake El’gygytgyn - a sensitive record of climate variability in the East Siberian Arctic during the past three climate cycles. J. Paleolim. 37.

Melles, M., Minyuk, P., Brigham-Grette, J. and Juschus, O., 2005. The Expedition El'gygytgyn Lake 2003 (Siberian Arctic). Reports of Polar and Marine Research 509, Alfred Wegner Institute, Bermerhaven, 139 pp.

Minyuk, P.S., Brigham-Grette, J., Melles, M., Borkhodoev, V, Ya. and Glushkova, O. Yu. 2007. Inorganic geochemistry of El’gygytgyn Lake sediments (northeastern Russia) as an indicator of paleoclimatic change for the last 250 kyr. J. Paleolim. 37.

Niessen, F., Gebhardt, C.A., Kopsch, C. and Wagner, B. 2007. Seismic investigation of the El'gygytgyn impact crater lake: preliminary results, J. Paleolim. 37.

Nolan, M., and Brigham-Grette, J. 2007. Basic Hydrology, Limnology, and meterology of modern Lake El'gygytgyn, Siberia. J. Paleolim. 37.

Nolan, Matt, Glen Liston, Peter Prokein, Rachel Huntzinger, Julie Brigham-Grette, Virgil Sharpton, 2002. Analysis of Lake Ice Dynamics and Morphology on Lake El’gygytgyn, Siberia, using SAR and Landsat. J. Geophys. Research, 108 (D2), 8162-8174.

Nowaczyk, N.R., Melles, M. and Minyuk, P. 2007. A revised age model for core PG1351 from Lake El'gygytgyn, Chukotka, based on magnetic susceptibility variations correlated to northern hemisphere insolation variations. J. Paleolim. 37.

Nowaczyk, N.R., P. Minyuk, M. Melles, J. Brigham-Grette, O. Glushkova, M. Nolan, A.V. Lozhkin, T.V. Stetsenko, P. Andersen, S.L. Forman, 2002, Magnetostratigraphic results from impact crater Lake El‘gygytgyn , north - eastern Siberia : a 300kyr long high - resolution terrestrial paleoclimatic record from the Arctic, Geophysical Journal International. 150, 109-126