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Scientific drilling projects in ancient lakes: integrating geological and biological histories

Wilke, Thomas; Wagner, Bernd; Van Bocxlaer, Bert; Albrecht, Christian; Ariztegui, Daniel; Delicado, Diana; Francke, Alexander; Harzhauser, Mathias; Hauffe, Torsten; Holtvoeth, Jens; Just, Janna; Leng, Melanie J.; Levkov, Zlatko; Penkman, Kirsty; Sadori, Laura; Skinner, Alister; Stelbrink, Björn; Vogel, Hendrik; Wesselingh, Frank; Wonik, Thomas


Thomas Wilke

Bernd Wagner

Bert Van Bocxlaer

Christian Albrecht

Daniel Ariztegui

Diana Delicado

Alexander Francke

Mathias Harzhauser

Torsten Hauffe

Jens Holtvoeth

Janna Just

Melanie J. Leng

Zlatko Levkov

Kirsty Penkman

Laura Sadori

Alister Skinner

Björn Stelbrink

Hendrik Vogel

Frank Wesselingh

Thomas Wonik


Sedimentary sequences in ancient or long-lived lakes can reach several thousands of meters in thickness and often provide an unrivalled perspective of the lake's regional climatic, environmental, and biological history. Over the last few years, deep drilling projects in ancient lakes became increasingly multi- and interdisciplinary, as, among others, seismological, sedimentological, biogeochemical, climatic, environmental, paleontological, and evolutionary information can be obtained from sediment cores. However, these multi- and interdisciplinary projects pose several challenges. The scientists involved typically approach problems from different scientific perspectives and backgrounds, and setting up the program requires clear communication and the alignment of interests. One of the most challenging tasks, besides the actual drilling operation, is to link diverse datasets with varying resolution, data quality, and age uncertainties to answer interdisciplinary questions synthetically and coherently. These problems are especially relevant when secondary data, i.e., datasets obtained independently of the drilling operation, are incorporated in analyses. Nonetheless, the inclusion of secondary information, such as isotopic data from fossils found in outcrops or genetic data from extant species, may help to achieve synthetic answers. Recent technological and methodological advances in paleolimnology are likely to increase the possibilities of integrating secondary information, e.g., through molecular dating of molecular phylogenies. Some of the new approaches have started to revolutionize scientific drilling in ancient lakes, but at the same time, they also add a new layer of complexity to the generation and analysis of sediment core data. The enhanced opportunities presented by new scientific approaches to study the paleolimnological history of these lakes, therefore, come at the expense of higher logistic, communication, and analytical efforts. Here we review types of data that can be obtained in ancient lake drilling projects and the analytical approaches that can be applied to empirically and statistically link diverse datasets for creating an integrative perspective on geological and biological data. In doing so, we highlight strengths and potential weaknesses of new methods and analyses, and provide recommendations for future interdisciplinary deep drilling projects.


Wilke, T., Wagner, B., Van Bocxlaer, B., Albrecht, C., Ariztegui, D., Delicado, D., …Wonik, T. (in press). Scientific drilling projects in ancient lakes: integrating geological and biological histories. Global and Planetary Change, 143,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 13, 2016
Online Publication Date May 25, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 6, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2016
Journal Global and Planetary Change
Print ISSN 0921-8181
Electronic ISSN 0921-8181
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 143
Keywords Ancient lake; long-lived lake; deep drilling; evolutionary biology; methodology; paleolimnology
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


Wilke_etal2016.pdf (1.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:

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