Workshop on drilling the Nicaraguan lakes: Bridging continents and oceans (NICA-BRIDGE)

Steffen Kutterolf, Mark Brenner, Robert A. Dull, Armin Freundt, Jens Kallmeyer, Sebastian Krastel, Sergei Katsev, Elodie Lebas, Axel Meyer, Liseth Pérez, Juanita Rausch, Armando Saballos, Antje Schwalb, Wilfried Strauch

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An international, multidisciplinary research group is proposing the "NICA-BRIDGE"drilling project, within the framework of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP). The project goal is to conduct scientific drilling in Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua (Nicaragua, Central America) to obtain long lacustrine sediment records to (a) extend the neotropical paleoclimate record back to the Pliocene, making it one of the longest continental tropical climate archives in the world, and to (b) provide geological data on the long-Term complex interplay among tectonics, volcanism, sea-level dynamics, climate change, and biosphere. The lakes are the two largest in Central America, and they are located in a trench-parallel half graben that hosts the volcanic front, which developed during or prior to the Pliocene, as a consequence of subduction-related tectonic activity. The lakes are uniquely suited for multidisciplinary scientific investigation as their long, continuous sediment records (several Myr) will facilitate the study of (1) terrestrial and marine basin development at the southern Central American margin, (2) alternating lacustrine and marine environments in response to tectonic and climatic changes, (3) the longest record of tropical climate proxies, (4) the evolution of (and transition between) the Miocene to Pliocene/Pleistocene and Pleistocene to present volcanic arcs, which were separated by slab rollback, (5) the significance of the lakes as hot spots for endemism, and (6) the Great American Biotic Interchange at this strategic location, i.e., the N-S and reverse migration of fauna after the land bridge between the Americas was established. The planned ICDP project offers an opportunity to explore these topics through continent-based seismological, volcanological, paleoclimatological, paleoecological, and paleoenvironmental studies, combined with an International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) drill project to explore its oceanic continuation. In preparation of this drilling project, an ICDP workshop was held in Montelimar, Nicaragua, on 2-5 March 2020 to develop drilling strategies and refine scientific questions, objectives, and hypotheses. The workshop was organized and hosted by the principal investigators and the Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), with funding from the ICDP. Forty-five researchers from 12 countries participated in the workshop, including representatives from ICDP. During the workshop, previous research data on the study lakes, including new recent surveys, were reviewed, and a three-phase strategy for the proposed research was developed. The aim of Phase 0 is to complement the pre-site surveys where we identified the need for further data. In Phase I, with ICDP support, we will obtain sediment cores g100gm long, which will allow us to investigate many of the scientific questions. Based on the data from those drill cores, coring locations will be identified for a future Phase II, which we envisage as a combined ICDP/IODP project to collect deep drill cores in the lakes and the offshore Sandino Basin in order to extend Phase I results to much deeper time. The Sandino Basin is the oceanic continuation of the depression in which the studied lakes are located, and complementary marine drilling will improve the understanding of the evolution of this complex margin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Drilling
StatePublished - Oct 26 2023

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