International Polar Year
IPY 2007-2008
Updated on 05/01/2009

Expressions of Intent for IPY 2007-2008 Activities

Expression of Interest Details

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(ID No: 33)

Deep Drilling at El´gygytgyn Crater Lake, Northeastern Siberia, Russia  (Lake El´gygytgyn Deep Drilling)

Lake El´gygytgyn, located in central Chukotka, NE Russia, is a 3.6 million year old impact crater lake with a diameter of 12 km and a water depth of 170 m. During the last 6 years the sedimentary record of this remarkable lake has become the major focus of a multi-disciplinary multi-national paleoclimatic effort and is now a potential target for deep drilling. The sediment record in the crater will yield a complete unprecedented record of Arctic climate evolution, starting nearly a million years prior to the first major glaciation of the Northern Hemisphere. Our site survey confirms that the crater was never glaciated during the Late Cenozoic and that the lake sediments sensitively reflect regional and hemispheric climate change on millennial time scales. We propose a major drilling campaign to retrieve replicate cores to over 630 m to retrieve a continuous paleoclimate record from the deepest part of the lake and into the underlying impact breccias and bedrock. Studies of the impact rocks offers the planetary science community with the opportunity to study a well preserved crater uniquely found in igneous rocks like those on Mars. One additional core to 200 meters into permafrost in the surrounding catchment will allow us to test ideas about arctic permafrost history and the sediment supply to the lake since the time of impact. Lake El’gygytgyn represents a world-class drilling target for obtaining a paleoclimate record unique to the terrestrial Arctic. Having conducted three successful expeditions to the Lake since 1998, creating strong collaborations among predominantly American, Russian and German researchers with similar goals, this project provides the ideal framework for advancing our knowledge of Arctic climate and paleoenvironmental systematics while promoting international scientific cooperation. This deep drilling effort is an important step toward assessing the environmental dynamics recorded at El’gygytgyn against other arctic and lower latitude paleoenvironmental records and toward placing them in the context of existing knowledge concerning the impacts and responses of different regions to past and future change. This work for the IPY will place El gygytgyn into an interhemispheric context. The goals of this project are paralleled with the efforts of the science community focused on understanding modes of variability in arctic climate on millennial time scales, as well as the spatial—temporal patterns and consequences of past warm arctic scenarios.

Theme(s)   Major Target
The current state of the polar environment
Change in the polar regions
Polar-global linkages and teleconnections
Exploring new frontiers
  Natural or social sciences research

What significant advance(s) in relation to the IPY themes and targets can be anticipated from this project?
The continuous 3.6 million year climate record in Lake El’gygytgyn is unique in the terrestrial Arctic. It is necessary to determine why, how and when the arctic climate system evolved from a warm forested ecosystem into a cold permafrost ecosystem in the late Pliocene. Also important is characterizing climate dynamics during the subsequent Milankovitch-driven glacial/interglacial cycles. Furthermore, higher resolution climate change events across eastern Siberia on centennial to millennial scales can be tested for atmospheric teleconnections against other long climate records worldwide. This offers insight into the conditions for permafrost stability through time, especially in the context of modern warming.

What international collaboration is involved in this project?
Leading countries in this international collaboration are Russia, Germany, United States and Austria. In addition, collaborating scientists come from The Netherlands and Canada and we anticipate the participation of scientists from other countries. These participating countries include scientists from over 16 academic institutions. q2_1_Location : Lake El’gygytgyn is ca. 100 km north of the Arctic Circle at 67.30o N and 172.05o E in the Anadyr Mountains of eastern Chukotka, N.E. Russia. The lake, found some 250 km southeast of the remote village of Pevek, measures about 170 m deep and about 12 km in diameter.


Geographical location(s) for the proposed field activities:
Lake El’gygytgyn is ca. 100 km north of the Arctic Circle at 67.30o N and 172.05o E in the Anadyr Mountains of eastern Chukotka, N.E. Russia. The lake, found some 250 km southeast of the remote village of Pevek.

Approximate timeframe(s) for proposed field activities:
Arctic: 03/07 – 05/07      Alternatively 03/08 – 05/08      
Antarctic: n/a

Significant facilities will be required for this project:
All equipment and All equipment and consumables must be flown to Pevek. Further transport to the lake is only possible via helicopter and/or sled convoys in winter. If drilling takes place in 2008, then project operations would benefit from any ship operating in the Arctic Ocean supplying equipment to Pevek in summer 2007.

Will the project leave a legacy of infrastructure?
No, however, we anticipate leaving remote camp facilities with the Chukotka Science Support Group for future science projects if beneficial to local authorities.

How is it envisaged that the required logistic support will be secured?
Own national polar operator
Another national polar operator
Commercial operator
Own support

Logistics will be coordinated by an operations management team consisting of the leading international scientists and experienced national logistics operators. Past experience from three successful expeditions to Lake El’gygytgyn have strengthened connections and trust with local operators willing to support the project.

Has the project been "endorsed" at a national or international level?
Necessary site surveys for this project were funded by national agencies in Russia, the USA and Germany. A pre-proposal for a deep drilling campaign at Lake El’gygytgyn submitted to the International Continental Drilling Program in January 2004, was highly ranked; we were encouraged to submit a full proposal in 2005. We are seeking the endorsement of the German IPY committee (meeting on Jan. 11, 2005).


Is the project a short-term expansion (over the IPY 2007-2008 timeframe) of an existing plan, programme or initiative or is it a new autonomous proposal?
The El’gygytgyn Lake project integrates along the framework of the older PAGES PEP III transect and within the spirit of new international interests in regional and hemispheric climate and ecosystem dynamics. This research project is included in the broad framework of the IPY-proposed "Bipolar Climate Machinery” (BIPOMAC) and the European APEX initiative.

How will the project be organised and managed?
The project will be managed by a Science Management Team and an Operations Management Team. The Science Management Team will coordinate the interactions of principle investigators, oversee the Operations Management Team, proactively facilitate agreements and government relations, proactively seek avenues for useful public relations, and oversee implementation of data management. The Operations Management Team will focus on all aspects of the logistical issues associated with mobilizing equipment and personnel to/from the drill site. They will also be instrumental in securing the deportation of the core materials to other countries.

What are the initial plans of the project for addressing the education, outreach and communication issues outlined in the Framework document?
Our outreach efforts will include the publication of an educational CD regarding science at Lake E. Preliminary efforts towards this CD have already begun and can be found at www.uaf.edu/water/faculty/nolan/lakee.html. The El’gygytgyn Management Team has been approached by members of the film industry and free-lance journalists about promoting the science to the general public.

What are the initial plans of the project to address data management issues (as outlined in the Framework document)?
All data from the project will be archived in easily accessible "web based’ databases such as PANGAEA or the NOAA NGDC.

How is it proposed to fund the project?
We seek funding from the International Continental Drilling Program for parts of the operational costs. The remaining operational costs and especially the scientific investigations of the core materials, shall be funded by national agencies.

Is there additional information you wish to provide?


Pro Martin Melles
University Leipzig
Institute for Geophysics and Geology
Talstrasse 35, Leipzig

Tel: +49-341-9732-902/900
Fax: +49-341-9732-809

Other project members and their affiliation

Name   Affiliation
Julie Brigham-Grette   University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA
Pavel Minyuk (PI)   NEISRI FEB-RAS, Magadan, Russia
Christian Koeberl   University Vienna, Austria
Matt Nolan   University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA
Hans-W. Hubberten   Alfred Wegener Institute, Potsdam, Germany
Dimitri Yu. Bolshiyanov   Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Rus

Other Information

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