1University of Cologne, Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Cologne, Germany
2Russian Academy of Sciences, Northeast Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute, Magadan, Russia
3Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
4University of Massachusetts, Department of Geosciences, USA
Abstract. The 3.6 Ma sediment record of Lake El'gygytgyn, Far East Russian Arctic, represents the longest continuous climate archive of the terrestrial Arctic. Its elemental composition monitored by X-ray fluorescence scanning exhibits significant changes since the Mid-Pliocene caused by climate driven variations in the primary production, postsedimentary diagenetic processes, and current activity in the lake as well as weathering processes in its catchment.
During the Mid to Late Pliocene, warmer and wetter climatic conditions are reflected by elevated Si / Ti ratios, indicating enhanced diatom production in the lake. Prior to 3.3 Ma, this signal is highly masked by intensified detrital input from the catchment, visible in maxima of clastic-related proxies such as the K concentration. In addition, calcite formation in the early lake history points to enhanced nutrient flux into the lake caused by intensified weathering in its catchment. Its termination at ca. 3.3 Ma is supposed to be linked to the development of permafrost in the region triggered by a first cooling in the Mid-Pliocene.
After ca. 3.0 Ma the elemental data suggest a gradual transition to Quaternary-style glacial / interglacial cyclicity. In the early Pleistocene, the cyclicity was first dominated by variations on the 41 ka obliquity band but experienced a change to a 100 ka eccentricity dominance after the Middle Pleistocene Transition at ca. 1.2 to 0.7 Ma. This clearly demonstrates the sensitivity of the Lake El'gygytgyn record to orbital forcing.
A successive decrease of the baseline-levels of the redox-sensitive Mn / Fe ratio and magnetic susceptibility between 2.3 to 1.8 Ma reflects an overall change in the bottom water oxygenation due to an intensified occurrence of pervasive glacial episodes in the early Quaternary. The coincidence with major changes in the North Pacific and Bering Sea paleoceanography at ca. 1.8 Ma implies that the change in lake hydrology was caused by regional cooling and/or changes in the ocean-land moisture transport. Further rising TOC and TN values after ca. 1.6 Ma are attributed to a progressive intensification of the glacial intensity.
In the course of the Quaternary glacial/interglacial sequence eight so-called "super-interglacials" occur. Their exceptional warm conditions are reflected by extreme Si / Ti peaks accompanied by lows in Ti, K, and Fe, thus indicating an extraordinary high lake productivity.