What Are They Doing?

An international team of researchers from the United States, Germany, Russia, and Austria traveled to northeast Russia to conduct a large-scale scientific drilling project in Lake El'gygytgyn (pronounced el'geegitgin), a crater lake created 3.6 million years ago by the impact of a meteorite measuring about 18 km in diameter. The team worked on the lake ice throughout the winter, using a customized light-weight drill rig to obtain drill cores of layered muds from two sites in the lake.

Lake El'gygytgyn possesses a unique record of prehistoric climate change in the arctic. Because this basin was never glaciated, an uninterrupted sediment sequence of nearly 400 m (1312 feet) has accumulated at the bottom of the lake. Sediment cores collected during this expedition were used to gather information about the history of the basin and were compared with similar paleoclimate records from other parts of the world, helping researchers to better understand the arctic's role in global climate change.

The team also drilled a short distance into the highly fractured rock layer below the sediments to learn more about meteorite impacts. Because of the particularly well-preserved rock structure in Lake El'gygytgyn, the team was able to learn how igneous target rocks in this area responded to impacts, potentially providing the basis for important understanding related to cratering processes on Mars.

Geologists used the data collected from the project to reconstruct past climate records on longer time scales, improve understanding of the climate system, and better inform scientists who predict future climate change.

Where Are They?

Lake El'gygytgyn (pronounced el'geegitgin) is located 100 km (62 miles) north of the Arctic Circle and 250 km (155 miles) inland from the Arctic Ocean (67.5° N and 172° E) on the remote Chukchi Peninsula in the Russian Far East. This large lake measures 12 km (7.5 miles) wide and roughly 170 m (558 feet) deep. It is positioned on the continental divide between the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea in the middle of Anadyr Mountains. The team lived and worked out of a temporary camp located on the west shore of the frozen lake ice.

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Dates
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Location
Crater Lake El’gygytgyn, Russia
Project Funded Title
Scientific Drilling at El’gygytgyn Crater Lake, Chukotka, Northeast Siberia
Related Expeditions
Tim Martin - Teacher
Teacher
Greensboro Day School

Although he grew up in several locations around the country, Tim Martin has always felt most at home in the natural world. His persistent curiosity led to his undergraduate study of the natural sciences and art at Goshen College and recently he completed his M.S. in teaching geosciences through Mississippi State University. Whether using recent data for weather forecasting, seismograms for mapping plate tectonics, or making real-time observations with an Internet accessible radio telescope, Mr. Martin has a passion for bringing real time science into his Earth Science classroom at Greensboro Day School. In his free time, he may be found "up close and personal" with earth science while rock climbing with his family. Mr. Martin is excited to be a Polar TREC teacher as he sees Lake El'gygytgyn as an important crossroads for geology, climatology, and planetary science. For more information about Mr. Martin, his class, and his previous earth Science adventures, visit Tim's Adventure Earth Science web site.

Julie Brigham-Grette - Researcher
Researcher
University of Massachusetts

Dr. Brigham-Grette's research interests are focused on the stratigraphy, sedimentology, and chronology of geologic systems that record the climate evolution and sea level history of the Arctic since the Pliocene. Most of her research program is aimed at documenting the global context of paleoenvironmental change across "Beringia", i.e., the Bering Land Bridge, stretching across the western Arctic from Alaska and the Yukon into NE Russia including the adjacent marginal seas. Starting in the 1980s with fieldwork on the sea level history and glacial stratigraphy of vast Arctic coastal plains and coastal environments in comparison with regional alpine glaciation, she is now focused on the integration of records from marine and lake systems.

Since 1991, her group has participated in numerous field expeditions to remote regions of Arctic Russia and she was co-chief scientist in 2002 of an expedition on the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, taking sediment cores from the Bering and Chukchi Seas. She is the US Chief Scientist of the El'gygytgyn Lake Scientific Drilling project, a multinational field program leading to the first unprecedented recovery in 2009 of a 3.6 Myr record of terrestrial paleoclimate. She has previously been involved in the IPY STEM Polar Connections project to integrate the study of polar regions and International Polar Year activities into the middle and high school curriculum from the terrestrial Arctic.

Christian Koeberl - Researcher
Researcher
University of Vienna
Pavel Minyuk - Researcher
Researcher
Northeast Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute
Martin Melles - Researcher
Researcher
University of Cologne

Geologic Climate Research in Siberia Resources

This outreach piece in Nature describes the aspects of bringing various guests on field science expeditions. The PolarTREC program is a focus amongst the programs providing some best practices as the author offers advice to scientists considering the addition of guests on expeditions.

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This article and associated video describe the findings of researchers who undertook core drilling at Lake El’gygytgyn, a lake that sits today inside a basin formed by a meteorite that struck the earth 3.6 million years ago. An associated video allows us to hear the enthusiasm and details as researcher Julie Brigham-Grette describes the findings of this remarkable discovery.

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This article describes the remarkable efforts of a team of scientists to extract cores from deep under a frozen lake in Siberia, Russia. PolarTREC teacher Tim Martin joined the project which will provide an astounding record of past climates preserved in layers of lake bed sediment.

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A slideshow video by PolarTREC teacher Tim Martin as related to Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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PolarTREC teacher Tim Martin interview researcher Julie Brigham-Grette in regards to geologic climate research in siberia.

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Tim Martin, Geologic Climate Research in Siberia

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Overview

Lake El'gygytgyn (67.5º N, 172º E) is one of the best preserved large asteroid impact craters on earth. In the winter of 2009, I joined an international science team and traveled to the frozen arctic lake to drill and extract lake sediments to study climate change as well as sample the rocks that were changed when the crater was formed 3.6 million years ago.

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The sediment in Lake El'gygytgyn, (pronounced EL-ge-GIT-gin) located in NE Siberia, holds one of the longest records of climate change anywhere in the continental Arctic. How does sediment (clay and mud) tell us something about past climate? Proxy data!

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Greensboro News and Record article about PolarTREC teacher Tim Martin's expedition in Russia. Written post-expedition, it discusses some of the highlights from the project, including being the first to see the rock cores from the bottom of Lake El'gygytgyn. Click below for the online article.

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Field Notes newsletter discusses research at Lake El'gygytgyn, and provides a link to follow Tim Martin's PolarTREC journals. Access the article using the link provided.

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PolarTREC Teacher, Tim Martin facilitated an unique learning opportunity when his students corresponded with him remotely in a Live from IPY! event. Local reporters covered the live event at Mr. Martin's school in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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This Live from IPY! event was held with PolarTREC teacher Tim Martin and University of Massachusetts researcher Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette from the Lake El'gygytgyn scientific drilling project in Siberia. Due to technical difficulties running Wimba, only an audio recording and a PDF of the slides is available for this event.

News article from the News & Record informing the public on Tim Martin's trip to Siberia with PolarTREC.

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This article in the Polar Field Services "Field Notes" newsletter explains some of the fascinating science taking place in the spring of 2009 in northeastern Russia. It also highlights the logistical challenges with living and working in remote Russia.

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This is an online broadcast of Tim Martin being interviewed about his upcoming expedition to Russia. Click the link provided to access the website and to view the broadcast. Here is the online summary of the broadcast:

Greensboro, NC -- Ever wonder what it's like to live and work in minus 40 degree temperatures?

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