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Scientific Collaboration On Past Speciation Conditions in Ohrid (SCOPSCO)



Lake Ohrid - NASALake Ohrid is a transboundary lake between the Republics of Macedonia and Albania. With more than 200 endemic species described, the lake is a unique aquatic ecosystem of worldwide importance. This importance was emphasized, when the lake was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and included as a target area of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) already in 1993.
Though the lake is considered to be the oldest, continuously existing lake in Europe, age and origin of Lake Ohrid are not unravelled to date. Age estimations vary between one and ten million years and concentrate around three to five million years, and both marine and limnic origin is proposed. Extant sedimentary records from Lake Ohrid cover the last glacial/interglacial cycle and reveal that Lake Ohrid is a valuable archive of volcanic ash dispersal and climate change in the central northern Mediterranean region. These records, however, are too short to provide information about age and origin of the lake and to unravel the mechanisms controlling the evolutionary development leading to the extraordinary high degree of endemism. Concurrent genetic brakes in several invertebrate groups indicate that major geological and/or environmental events must have shaped the evolutionary history of endemic faunal elements in Lake Ohrid.

High-resolution hydroacoustic profiles (INNOMAR SES-96 light) taken 2004 and 2007 and a multichannel seismic (Mini-GI-Gun) pilot study in 2007 demonstrate well the interplay between sedimentation and active tectonics and impressively prove the potential of Lake Ohrid for an ICDP drilling campaign. The maximal sediment thickness is ~570 m in the central basin, where unconformities or erosional features are absent and thus the complete history of the lake is likely recorded.

A deep drilling in Lake Ohrid would allow (i) to obtain more precise information about age and origin of the lake, (ii) to obtain a continuous record containing information on tectonic and volcanic activities and climate changes in the central northern Mediterranean region, and (iii) to understand the impact of major geological/environmental events on general evolutionary patterns and on generating an extraordinary degree of endemic biodiversity as a matter of global significance.

Figure ©: NASA picture of lakes Ohrid, Velika Prespa and Mala Prespa in Greece, Macedonia and Albania



Europe, Albania, Macedonia, Ohrid, Lake Ohrid



41° 1' 50'' N, 20° 43' 3'' E (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • shallow holes have been done in summer 2011
  • the deep holes have been done in summer 2013


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • Bernd Wagner, University of Cologne, Institute of Prehistoric Archeology
  • Thomas Wilke, University of Giessen, Department of Animal Ecology and Systematics
  • Andon Grazhdani, Universiteti Politeknik, Fakulteti i Gjeologjise dhe Minierave
  • Goce Kostoski, Hydrobiological Institute Ohrid
  • Sebastian Krastel-Gudegast, University of Kiel, Institute of Geosciences, Department of Geophysics, Marine Geophysics and Hydroacoustics
  • Klaus Reicherter, RWTH Aachen University, Neotectonics and Natural Hazards
  • Giovanni Zanchetta, Università degli Studi di Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra
  • Melanie J. Leng, British Geological Survey, NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory


Cooperating Principal Investigators

No Co-PIs found for this project


Partners and Contractors



Albania, Ancient Lakes, Climate, Europe, ICDP-2009/03, Lake Drilling, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia, OHRID, SCOPSCO, Speciation, Tectonic, Volcanism


Current State





    Google Earth/Maps