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Porewater salinity reveals past lake-level changes in Lake Van, the Earth’s largest soda lake

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Tomonaga Yama, Brennwald Matthias S., Livingstone David M., Kwiecien Olga, Randlett Marie-Ève, Stockhecke Mona, Unwin Katie, Anselmetti Flavio S., Beer Jürg, Haug Gerald H., Schubert Carsten J., Sturm Mike, Kipfer Rolf,
Project Swiss membership in the International Scientific Continental Drilling Program ICDP
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Scientific Reports
Volume (Issue) 7(1)
Page(s) 313 - 313
Title of proceedings Scientific Reports
DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-00371-w

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


In closed-basin lakes, sediment porewater salinity can potentially be used as a conservative tracer to reconstruct past fluctuations in lake level. However, until now, porewater salinity profiles did not allow quantitative estimates of past lake-level changes because, in contrast to the oceans, significant salinity changes (e.g., local concentration minima and maxima) had never been observed in lacustrine sediments. Here we show that the salinity measured in the sediment pore water of Lake Van (Turkey) allows straightforward reconstruction of two major transgressions and a major regression that occurred during the last 250 ka. We observed strong changes in the vertical salinity profiles of the pore water of the uppermost 100 m of the sediments in Lake Van. As the salinity balance of Lake Van is almost at steady-state, these salinity changes indicate major lake-level changes in the past. In line with previous studies on lake terraces and with seismic and sedimentological surveys, we identify two major transgressions of up to +105 m with respect to the current lake level at about 135 ka BP and 248 ka BP starting at the onset of the two previous interglacials (MIS5e and MIS7), and a major regression of about −200 m at about 30 ka BP during the last ice age.