Articles | Volume 11
Sci. Dril., 11, 29–40, 2011
Sci. Dril., 11, 29–40, 2011

  01 Mar 2011

01 Mar 2011

The Lake El'gygytgyn Scientific Drilling Project – Conquering Arctic Challenges through Continental Drilling

M. Melles1, J. Brigham-Grette2, P. Minyuk3, C. Koeberl4,5, A. Andreev1, T. Cook6, G. Fedorov7, C. Gebhardt8, E. Haltia-Hovi9, M. Kukkonen1, N. Nowaczyk9, G. Schwamborn10, B. Wennrich1, and the El'gygytgyn Scientific Party M. Melles et al.
  • 1Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Cologne, Zuelpicher Str. 49a, 50674 Cologne, Germany
  • 2Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, 611 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
  • 3North-East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute, FEB RAS, 16 Portovaya St., 685000, Magadan, Russia
  • 4Department of Lithospheric Research, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • 5Natural History Museum, 1010 Vienna, Austria
  • 6Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, 611 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
  • 7Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Bering Street, 199397 St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 8Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Alten Hafen 26, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 9GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Telegrafenberg C321, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 10Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Between October 2008 and May 2009, the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) co-sponsored a campaign at Lake El´gygytgyn, located in a 3.6-Ma-old meteorite impact crater in northeastern Siberia. Drilling targets included three holes in the center of the 170-m-deep lake, utilizing the lake ice cover as a drilling platform, plus one hole close to the shore in the western lake catchment. At the lake’s center. the entire 315-m-thick lake sediment succession was penetrated. The sediments lack any hiatuses (i.e., no evidence of basin glaciation or desiccation), and their composition reflects the regional climatic and environmental history with great sensitivity. Hence, the record provides the first comprehensive and widely timecontinuous insights into the evolution of the terrestrial Arctic since mid-Pliocene times. This is particularly true for the lowermost 40 meters and uppermost 150 meters of the sequence, which were drilled with almost 100% recovery and likely reflect the initial lake stage during the Pliocene and the last ~2.9 Ma, respectively. Nearly 200 meters of underlying rock were also recovered; these cores consist of an almost complete section of the various types of impact breccias including broken and fractured volcanic basement rocks and associated melt clasts. The investigation of this core sequence promises new information concerning the El´gygytgyn impact event, including the composition and nature of the meteorite, the energy released, and the shock behavior of the volcanic basement rocks. Complementary information on the regional environmental history, including the permafrost history and lake-level fluctuations, is being developed from a 142-m-long drill core recovered from the permafrost deposits in the lake catchment. This core consists of gravelly and sandy alluvial fan deposits in ice-rich permafrost, presumably comprising a discontinuous record of both Quaternary and Pliocene deposits.