Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 49–63 | Cite as

Seismic investigation of the El’gygytgyn impact crater lake (Central Chukotka, NE Siberia): preliminary results

Original Paper


The 12 km wide and about 175 m deep El’gygytgyn crater lake in Central Chukotka, NE Siberia, is of special interest for investigation as it could provide the first undisturbed 3.6 Ma terrestrial record from the Arctic realm, reaching back a million years before the first major glaciation of the Northern Hemisphere. A single-channel seismic survey was carried out on an expedition to the lake in 2000, in which both high resolution and deep penetration data were acquired. Seismic data suggest an impact crater structure in Cretaceous volcanic bedrock, indicated by velocities of >5000 m s−1, whose upper 500–600 m is brecciated. The lake is filled with two units of sediments, the upper one well stratified and the lower one massive. In the center of the lake, the combined thickness of the two sedimentary units is estimated to be 320–350 m. The upper unit is draped over the location of an interpreted central peak and is locally intercalated with debris flows, mainly in the western part of the lake and at the lake margins. Most of the lower unit is obscured by multiples as a result of high reflection coefficients in the upper unit. As at least the upper unit appears to be undisturbed by glaciation, the lake should yields unique information on the paleoclimatic development of the East Siberian Arctic.


Siberia Arctic Lacustrine sediments Impact crater Seismic investigations Paleoclimate 


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The financial contribution of the American National Science Foundation (grant from the Office of Polar Programs and the Earth System History Program to J. Brigham-Grette) and of the German Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), which made the expedition in 2000 possible, is greatly appreciated. We thank our colleagues, J. Brigham-Grette, Celeste Asikainen, Matt Nolan, Mike Apfelbaum, Pavel Minyuk, Griguriev Federov, Olga Glushkova and Wladimir Smirnov for their help in the field. Without the great effort of Pavel Minyuk, who was responsible for dealing with the difficulties of logistics in Russia, the expedition would not have been successful. The support and hospitality in Pevek, provided by Michael Baranov of the local Mining Institute, is much appreciated. We are particularly grateful to Yuri Gapkailo from Pevek for letting us use his cabin at the outlet of Lake Elgygytgyn. Hartmut Martens (AWI-Bremerhaven) built and provided the sonobuoys and Gerald Müller (AWI-Potsdam) helped with the logistics to prepare the cargo of the German expedition equipment. We thank our colleague Graham Shields and the two anonymous reviewers, whose comments and suggestions improved the quality of the manuscript significantly.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Niessen
    • 1
  • A. C. Gebhardt
    • 1
  • C. Kopsch
    • 2
  • B. Wagner
    • 3
  1. 1.Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchColumbusstraßeGermany
  2. 2.Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchPotsdamGermany
  3. 3.University Leipzig, Institute for Geophysics and GeologyLeipzigGermany

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