The sediments of ‘Banana Lake’ or Lake Shinme Chauk, which is located close to the Bronze Age cemetery of Nyanggan, were the last on our to do list. The lake is very shallow, and partly overgrown, but according to the people, who live around the lake, the lake has never dried out. We talked to a man who is 71 years old and he told us that he has never heard of or experienced that there was no water during the dry season. Thus hopes were high for this site, despite the fact that the archaeologists, who had excavated the Bronze Age cemetery, had described the craters as dried out lakes …
Since the small lake or water body that exists today is partly overgrown, it was difficult to find a good place from where we could launch the rubber boat. We searched for two or three hours, walking around the lake in 35 degrees C day time heat and asked people about the lake, the sediments and from where to best reach the open water. At one place we found a small wooden canoe and Rienk paddled out to try and see if he could find a spot with more open water and soft sediments. Unfortunately he did not find anything!
So back again to where we had been before, and which seemed like a reasonable spot from where we could paddle out. Nut, Zaw Win and I tried this time, pushing the rubber boat through the thick vegetation. This was pretty hard, and paddles were more or less useless. But Zaw Win being really experienced with boats managed to push us further and further out and through the thick vegetation, using a long bamboo stick. Finally we found an area with pretty much open water, but the sediments at the bottom of the lake were stiff. Just grey stiff clay, sandy in some parts. Of course I did not want to give up and wanted to try at other places – but no luck at all. Just stiff clays everywhere!
The last try was to dig a hole and see if we could get below the stiff clay and then core in softer sediments. But also this did not work out. After about 0.50 cm the hole started to fill with water and collapsed.
This was a real disappointment. Such a nice crater lake and no soft sediments at all! Probably the lake had indeed dried out earlier (as described by archaeologists) and probably we asked the locals in a wrong way and got the answer we wanted to hear, i.e. that there has always been water in the lake. Now I know this and next time I will ask in a different way. Maybe we then may get the correct answer.
Although Shinme Chauk did not reveal its secrets to us, we were much more lucky with lakes number 1-4. All of these contained nice sediments, and at each lake we were able to obtain gravity cores and/or several meters of sediments with our Russian corer. Enough material to study over the coming years.