500,000 Years of Environmental History in Eastern Anatolia: The PALEOVAN Drilling Project
International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) drilled a complete succession of the lacustrine sediment sequence deposited during the last ~500,000 years in Lake Van, Eastern Anatolia (Turkey). Based on a detailed seismic site survey, two sites at a water depth of up to 360 m were drilled in summer 2010, and cores were retrieved from sub-lake-floor depths of 140 m (Northern Basin) and 220 m (Ahlat Ridge). To obtain a complete sedimentary section, the two sites were multiple-cored in order to investigate the paleoclimate history of a sensitive semi-arid region between the Black, Caspian, and Mediterranean seas. Further scientific goals of the PALEOVAN project are the reconstruction of earthquake activity, as well as the temporal, spatial, and compositional evolution of volcanism as reflected in the deposition of tephra layers. The sediments host organic matter from different sources and hence composition, which will be unravelled using biomarkers. Pathways for migration of continental and mantle-derived noble gases will be analyzed in pore waters. Preliminary 40Ar/39Ar single crystal dating of tephra layers and pollen analyses suggest that the Ahlat Ridge record encompasses more than half a million years of paleoclimate and volcanic/geodynamic history, providing the longest continental record in the entire Near East to date.