The Hovsgol Drilling Project retrieved Pleistocene sediment section with the basal age of ca. 1 Ma from the Hovsgol rift basin, NW Mongolia. Detailed lithologic data on drill cores is presented and compared with analogous sediment facies in the radiocarbon-dated records of the last glacial-interglacial transition. Drill cores from two sites, presently in 239 m and 235 m water depth, represent somewhat different depositional settings. The shorter HDP-06 drill core (26 m) at the base of the gentler SE slope of the rift basin contains lithologic evidence for several recent lake lowstands on the order of -200 m. The longer HDP-04 drill core (81 m) some 8 km away at the base of the steep NW underwater slope is composed of finer sediments and contains at least 10 characteristic transitions from calcareous to carbonate-free (diatomaceous) layers. These lithologic transitions are interpreted here as signals of repeated Pleistocene lake transgressions in the Hovsgol basin. Transgressions appear to have been associated with lower sedimentation rates and with the deposition of thin turbidite beds at the drill site. Comparison of drill core lithology with the available seismic data shows reasonable agreement in terms of the number of lowstand events and the general trends of changing lake level. HDP-04 drill core retrieved shallow-water facies containing sand and carbonate oolites deposited at the time of the most dramatic mid-Pleistocene regression of the lake. At ca. 24 m core depth, this interval corresponds to a major basinwide angular unconformity apparent in the seismic pattern. Lake Hovsgol, a smaller sister rift lake of the grand Lake Baikal, has a confined local catchment, which makes it very sensitive to regional variations in the effective moisture. Consisting primarily of calcareous mud, the sedimentary record of Lake Hovsgol provides a unique regional sedimentary archive. Future multi-proxy studies of the Hovsgol sedimentary records will allow constraint of the mid-late Pleistocene history of the hydrologic budget in the Baikal region of continental interior Asia.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Lake Hovsgol Drilling Project was supported by the cooperative agreement between the Institute of Geochemistry, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Kanazawa University (Japan), Nagoya University (Japan), and the Korean Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources. National sources of funding included 21st COE Programs of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan at Kanazawa University (Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology) and at Nagoya University; Russian Foundation for Basic Research grants 02-05-64781, 02-05-65134, 03-050651127, 03-05-64579, 05-05-97302, 05-05-66942, 06-05-64671, 06-05-64931; US National Science Foundation grant ATM-0402351.
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