ICDP workshop on the Lake Victoria Drilling Project (LVDP): Scientific Drilling of the World’s Largest Tropical Lake.

Melissa Berke, Daniel Peppe, Patrick Andrews, Simon Armitage, Lake Victorial drilling Project Team Members

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Lake Victoria, which is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and has a catchment that extends to Rwanda and Burundi, is home to the largest human population surrounding any lake in the world and provides critical resources across eastern Africa. Lake Victoria is also the world’s largest tropical lake by surface area, but it is relatively shallow and without a major inlet, making it very sensitive to changes in climate, and especially hydroclimate. Furthermore, its size creates abundant habitats for aquatic fauna, including the iconic hyper-diverse cichlids, and serves as a major geographic barrier to terrestrial fauna across equatorial Africa. Given Lake Victoria’s importance to the eastern African region, its sensitivity to climate, and its influences on terrestrial and aquatic faunal evolution and dispersal, it is vital to understand the connection between the lake, regional climate, and how the lake size, shape, and depth has changed through its depositional history. This information can only be ascertained by collecting a complete archive of Lake Victoria’s sedimentary record. To evaluate Lake Victoria basin as a potential drilling target, ~50 scientists from 10 countries met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in July 2022 for the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) sponsored Lake Victoria Drilling Project (LVDP) workshop. Discussions of the main scientific objectives for a future drilling project included: 1) recovering the Pleistocene and Holocene sedimentary records of Lake Victoria that document the dynamic nature of the lake, including multiple lacustrine and paleosol sequences; 2) establishing the chronology of recovered sediments, including using extensive tephra fingerprinting and other techniques from deposits in the region; 3) reconstructing past climate, environment, lacustrine conditions, and aquatic fauna, using an integrated multi-proxy approach, combined with climate and hydrologic modeling; and 4) connecting new records with existing sedimentary snapshots and fossils exposed in deposits around the lake, tying archeological, paleontological, sedimentological, tectonic, and volcanic findings to new drilling results. The LVDP provides an innovative way to address critical geological, paleontological, climatological, and evolutionary biological questions about Quaternary to modern landscapes and ecosystems in eastern Africa. Importantly, this project affords an excellent opportunity to help develop conservation and management strategies for regional responses to current and future changes in climate, land use, fisheries, and resiliency of at-risk communities in equatorial Africa.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Drilling
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2024

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