Lake Ohrid in the Balkans (Macedonia, Albania) is a unique aquatic ecosystem and a hotspot of freshwater biodiversity with more than 210 endemic species described.
Though the lake is considered to be the oldest, continuously existing lake in Europe, its age and origin are not completely unravelled to date. Age estimations vary between one and ten million years, with a focus between two and three million years, and both marine and limnic origin is proposed. Extant sedimentary records span the last glacial/interglacial cycle (last ca. 130.000 years) and reveal that Lake Ohrid is a valuable archive of volcanic ash dispersal, tectonic activity, and climate change in the central northern Mediterranean region.
The current international deep drilling project in Lake Ohrid will thus help (i) to obtain more precise information about the age and origin of the lake, (ii) to unravel the seismotectonic history of the lake area, (iii) to obtain a continuous record containing information on volcanic activities and climate changes in the central northern Mediterranean region, and (iv) to better understand the impact of major geological/environmental events on shaping an extraordinary degree of endemic biodiversity as a matter of global significance.
The drilling is conducted in spring 2013 in the central basin where the maximal sediment thickness is ~680 m and where the complete history of the lake is likely recorded.