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Lake Petén Itzá Scientific Drilling Project



Yucatan PeninsulaGLAD800 was used to drill a series of sites in Lake Petén Itzá, northern Guatemala, to recover sedimentary sequences along a depth transect from ~30 m to near the deepest point (~150 m) in the lake. Six primary and four alternative drilling sites have been identified on the basis of two detailed seismic surveys. A sequence stratigraphic approach will be employed to constrain the vertical range of past lake level variations for glacial, interstadial, and interglacial stages during the late Pleistocene. The basal age of the sections to be drilled is not certain but we estimate that sequences should span at least the last several glacial-to interglacial cycles.

The sediment archives and pore waters recovered by drilling will be used to test hypotheses related to three broad scientific themes:

  • Paleoclimatic history of the northern lowland Neotropics on orbital to suborbital time scales emphasizing marine-terrestrial linkages (e.g., Cariaco Basin, Greenland ice cores, etc.).
  • Paleoecology and biogeography of the Maya tropical lowland forest including the history of vegetation change and disturbance by humans, climate change, and fire.
  • Biogeochemical cycling in deep lake sediments emphasizing integrated studies of microbiology, geochemistry (interstitial waters), and mineral authigenesis/diagenesis.

(Photo ©:NASA)



Central America, Guatemala, Lake Petén Itzá



16° 59' 58'' N, 89° 47' 44'' W (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • Begin of drilling February 3, 2006
  • End of drilling March 11, 2006


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • David A. Hodell, University of Cambridge, Department of Earth Sciences, Bullard Laboratories
  • Flavio Anselmetti, University of Bern, Institute of Geological Sciences
  • Daniel Raul Ariztegui, Université de Genčve, Sciences de la Terre et de l'environnement, Limnogeology and Geomicrobiology
  • Mark Brenner, University of Florida, Department of Geological Sciences
  • Jason H. Curtis, University of Florida, Department of Geological Sciences
  • James M. Hall, Carnegie Institution for Science of Washington, Geophysical Laboratory
  • Gerald H. Haug, Max-Planck-Institute Mainz for Chemistry, Department of Climate Geochemistry
  • Judith Ann McKenzie, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Department of Earth Sciences, Geological Institute


Partners and Contractors



Climate Change, GLAD, GLAD800, Global Environment, Guatemala, ICDP-2004/03, Lake Drilling, Maya Clay, Neotropics, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, PETEN-ITZA, PISDP


Current State



Google Earth/Maps