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Late Quaternary mass movement events in Lake El′gygytgyn, North-eastern Siberia



Lake El′gygytgyn is situated in a 3·6 Myr old impact crater in North-eastern Siberia. Its sedimentary record probably represents the most complete archive of Pliocene and Quaternary climate change in the terrestrial Arctic. In order to investigate the influence of gravitational sediment transport on the pelagic sediment record in the lake centre, two sediment cores were recovered from the lower western lake slope. The cores penetrate a sub-recent mass movement deposit that was identified by 3·5 kHz echo sounding. In the proximal part of this deposit, deformed sediments reflect an initial debris flow characterized by limited sediment mixture. Above and in front of the debrite, a wide massive densite indicates a second stage with a liquefied dense flow. The mass movement event led to basal erosion of ca 1 m thick unconsolidated sediments along parts of its flow path. The event produced a suspension cloud, whose deposition led to the formation of a turbidite. The occurrence of the turbidite throughout the lake and the limited erosion at its base mainly suggest deposition by ‘pelagic rain’ following Stokes’ Law. Very similar radiocarbon dates obtained in the sediments directly beneath and above the turbidite in the central lake confirm this interpretation. When applying the depositional model for the Late Quaternary sediment record of Lake El′gygytgyn, the recovered turbidites allow reconstruction of the frequency and temporal distribution of large mass movement events at the lake slopes. In total, 28 turbidites and related deposits were identified in two, 12·9 and 16·6 m long, sediment cores from the central lake area covering approximately 300 kyr.