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Deep Drilling of Lake Junin, Peru



Marl exposed during dry season along the western edge ofLake Junín, located at 4000 m asl in the inner-tropics of the Southern Hemisphere, is a prime target for drilling because it contains a thick (>125 m) sediment package deposited at a high rate (0.2 to 1.0 mm yr-1). Abundant research conducted on and around Lake Junín provides a compelling rationale for deep drilling. Moraine mapping coupled with cosmogenic radionuclide dating indicate that paleoglaciers reached the lake edge, but have not overridden the lake in as much as a million years. Lake Junín is one of the few lakes in the tropical Andes that predates the maximum extent of glaciation and is in a geomorphic position to record the waxing and waning of glaciers in nearby cordillera. Sediment coring of Lake Junín began in the 1970s; two cores spanning the past 50,000 years reveal that sedimentation has alternated between clastic sediments deposited during peak glacial periods and authigenic calcite (marl) precipitated from the water column during interglacial times. The lake also contains ideal sediments for multiproxy analysis that can be reliably dated using both the radiocarbon and U/Th methods. The oxygen isotopic composition of marl and ostracod carapaces demonstrate that it primarily records the isotopic composition of precipitation and secondarily the degree of evaporative enrichment of lake water. Lake Junín contains a continuous record of tropical hydroclimate over interglacial and interstadial intervals for much of the past several hundred thousand years that is both comparable to, and an extension of stable isotope records from regional ice cores and speleothems. New organic geochemical proxies compliment the marl isotope record and offer the potential for a truly continuous isotope paleoclimate record through glacial and interglacial intervals alike. Lake Junín is ideally situated, both from logistical and scientific standpoints, to provide continuous high-resolution, independentlydated, long-term records of glaciation, and the variability of phenomena such as ENSO, the South America Summer Monsoon, and the Intertropical Convergence Zone. Because of the strong, demonstrated U/Th dating potential of Junín marl, we will be able to address critical issues regarding the synchrony of climate change in the tropics with that in high latitude regions of both hemispheres, the rate and timing of ecosystem response to climatic perturbations, and the dynamics of the geomagnetic field from a tropical perspective. Lake Junín is a scientifically mature site that will yield critical scientific insights that only drilling coupled with analysis by a select international team of scientists can unlock.

(Fig.: Marl exposed during dry season along the western edge of Lake Junin; view is looking west across lake to eastern cordillera. ©Rodbell)



South America, Peru, Lake Junin



11.0° S, 76.1° W (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • workshop done: 15-17 June, 2011 in Tarma, Peru


Principal Investigators
  • Donald T. Rodbell, Union College, Department of Geology
  • Mark B. Abbott, University of Pittsburg, Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences
  • Pedro Miguel Tapia Ormeño, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Departamento de Ciencias Biologicas y Fisiologicas



Carbonate Lakes, D18O, ICDP-2012/02, JUNIN, Lake Drilling, Lake Junin, Peru, South America, Tropical Climate Change


Current State





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