"Geologists and people who do paleoclimate studies are kind of like Doctor Who," Brigham-Grette said, referring to the time-traveling British television character. "We can go backward and forward in time. We can look at how things play out."
But doing so isn't easy. Retrieving the sediment core from Lake El'gygytgyn required more than a decade of planning before drilling commenced in 2009.
The frozen Siberian lake, an impact crater formed by a meteor crash 3.6 million years ago, was an ideal drilling site for scientists because it was never covered by glaciers, which scrape the earth below as they flow and surge, scouring away layers of sediment and bedrock.
Scientists were able to retrieve a pristine record of the past 3.6 million years from the lake's bed, recreating a lost world by analyzing the chemistry of the sediments, examining the thickness of the layers and studying pollen and fossils trapped inside them.
That work is continuing. The researchers are preparing another analysis that will look even further into the past, examining the period from 2.2 million to 3.6 million years ago.
The research was funded by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, the National Science Foundation, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Alfred Wegener Institute, GeoForschungsZentrum-Potsdam, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500