An email arrives asking if we would like to collaborate with the coring of Lake Sulzkarsee in the East Austrian Alps. This lake was on the original long list of lakes that needed to be short listed for this project previously. However, this is our chance to get a core, so here I am, my first coring experience. A collaboration between EcoGen (University of Tromsø), University of Salzburg and University of Innsbruck.

Introducation to Lake Sulzkarsee

Sulzkarsee is the only lake situated within Gesäuse National Park, Austria. The national park is home to precipitous limestone peaks and the river Enns; a southern tributary of the Danube. Before reaching the Danube, the river Enns descends 1,497m in altitude!

Sulzkarsee lake was stocked during the 1970s with salmonids (Salvelinus fontinalis, Oncorhynchus mykiss) and minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus) for hobby fishing until 2006. Intensive fishing in 2016 to reduce fish numbers allowed for successful spawning of the common toad (Bufo bufo) and alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris).

The lake is situated within an area that is still used as alpine pasture for summer grazing. Animal access to the lake for drinking water has been restricted in an attempt to reduce excessive nutrient input. The lake has only one inlet and one outlet. However, there are a few sinkholes on one side of the lake.


The First Day


We arrived at Lake Sulzkarsee to find it snowing, which for this time of the year isn’t unusual.

The road that ran closest to the lake was too narrow for the van to use so we had to carry all of the equipment by hand. It was tough going and quite heavy but a good bit of team work got it there in no time!

Once we had gotten the equipment to the lake it was time to unpack ourselves and sort out sleeping arrangements in the alpine cabin and have a well deserved beer.

The Second Day

The second day was our planned day for coring, and the sun rise was spectacular! The weather had let up and the day was warming.

It took a few hours to get the coring platform ready and set up but once it was up we were ready to start coring


The platform is an UWITEC platform using a piston corer. The corer was operated with 200cm long PVC pipes in a stainless steel liner which is driven into the sediment using a monkey hammer. 


The platform was tied into position above the deepest part of the lake and coring began.

Two parallel surface cores were taken using a UWITEC corer sampler hammer action. The cores were ~117 and ~137cm in legnth. A video from the UWITEC youtube channel shows how this surface sample is taken




Following this, two full length parallel cores were taken with the second core being offset by 50cm. Each section of core was ~200cm long, with both cores reaching ~600cm.

Bedrock from the lake can be seen sticking out of the end of the corer, so I think it’s safe to say that we reached the end of the sediment!


The Third Day

 The third day consisted of compiling a species list of flora in and around the lake. Most excitingly we found a real mix of species. Some species were unexpected at this elevation e.g. a maple tree (Acer sp.).
 Afterwards, we had to repeat what we did on the first day, just contrariwise. The platform was taken down and then we cleared up and left. All in all we had a very successful few days in the field with some nice cores to work on. We are very excited to see what results can come from this lake.
Alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris)

A big thanks is in order for everyone who came on this field trip or helped with it’s organisation. It took a lot of planning but was well worth it in the end.