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Lake Titicaca Drilling Project



Lake Titicaca and GLAD800Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and Peru contains one of the most significant climatic archives in South America. It has been identified as one of the primary sites for completion of the Pole-Equator-Pole paleoclimatic transect of the Western Hemisphere. Lake Titicaca is the only large, deep freshwater lake in South America. In 2001, DOSECC cored three sites in Lake Titicaca using the GLAD800. During this project, we collected a total of 593.6 m of core. The deepest hole was 139 m of sediment with a water depth of 232 m.

Lake Titicaca is located at 3810 m in the Andes and is bordered by cordillera that reach over 6000 m to the east and west. Although these mountains support modern alpine glaciers, during prior phases of major glaciation (e.g. the last glacial maximum, or ~21,000 yr BP) the lake was not covered by glaciers and consequently contains a long record of glaciation and climate change in the tropical Andes. Scientists have split and described the drill cores, which come from three sites in the lake, at LacCore (University of Minnesota), the US national repository for lake cores. Sediment cores were sampled from the three sites at a 20 cm resolution, and in some cases at a higher spatial resolution, for a total of ~1800 samples. Analyses that are currently underway include total organic carbon, total inorganic carbon, detrital grain size, diatom analysis, biogenic silica, stable isotopes of the organic carbon and carbonate, and geochemical characterization of volcanic ashes in the sediment cores. Scientists have obtained ~75 AMS radiocarbon dates from the drill cores and they have pending Ar/Ar analyses of the volcanic ashes to provide an absolute chronology beyond the range of radiocarbon. The sediment records clearly show the last glacial cycle in the Andes, significant lake level variations, and hydrologic changes that reflect the strength of tropical hydrologic cycling in the late Quaternary.

(Photo ©:DOSECC - GLAD800 on Lake Titicaca)



South America, Bolivia, Peru, Lake Titicaca



15° 55' S, 69° 48' W (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • Begin of drilling April 26, 2001
  • End of drilling May 24, 2001


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • Paul A. Baker, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences
  • Paul A. Baker, Yachay Tech University, School of Geological Sciences and Engineering


Cooperating Principal Investigators
  • Sherilyn Claire Fritz, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Geoffrey Owen Seltzer (?), Syracuse University, Department of Earth Sciences


Partners and Contractors



Andes, Bolivia, Climate Change, GLAD, GLAD800, Global Environment, ICDP-2000/12, Lake Drilling, Peru, South America, TITICACA


Current State



Google Earth/Maps