Introduction to the Pavilion Lake Research Project

Read the News from the PLRP project leads and view the public calendar.

The Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) is an international, multi-disciplinary, science and exploration effort to explain the origin of freshwater microbialites in Pavilion Lake, British Columbia, Canada. Fossil microbialites represent some of the earliest remnants of life on ancient Earth, and were common from ~2.5 billion to 540 million years ago. Today, microbialites are found in environments where conditions are often too harsh for most organisms. However, the microbialites in both Pavilion and Kelly lakes have provided a new environment for the scientific community to study. These lakes demonstrate that large and uniquely shaped structures can also occur in non-extreme environments that also support fish, plants and other species. The microbialites of these modern lakes are relevant to our understanding of ancient microbialites that were once common and diverse on early Earth, as such, Pavilion Lake has become an exciting field site for Earth scientists and astrobiologists who are interested in the application of the PLRP research to the search for life in our solar system and beyond.

The PLRP was founded in 2004, and has grown in exciting new directions ever since. During the 2004 field season, PLRP scientists discovered microbialites in Kelly Lake, which is approximately 20 km NW from Pavilion Lake. The PLRP team will be taking their DeepWorker Science and Exploration (DSE) program to Kelly Lake in 2011. These research activities complement those that have taken place at Pavilion Lake since 2008, and will help to broaden our understanding of modern microbialite-rich environments. Further to these science activities, the PLRP supports a thriving human exploration research component. The focus of this program element is the development of operational technologies and strategies that facilitate scientific productivity and efficiency for future human scientific exploration of our Solar System.

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Darlene Lim, Principal Investigator for the Pavilion Lake Research Project, discusses the exciting and new science objectives for the 2011 field season at Kelly Lake.

Next Analog Mission

Pavilion Lake analog tests begin on July 16, 2011

About Pavilion Lake

Connect with PLRP

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Mapping Microbialites,

6:32 AM July 14th via web


PI, Darlene Lim on the move to field site to get things started.

8:49 PM July 12th via web


Meet The Team

Mark Saffari

Mark Saffari

Mark has been contributing to the Pavilion Lake Project for at least two years now, and was involved in the latest round of chemical analyses for Pavilion Lake 's pore water analyses in August. Mark's main areas of activity are Anal...

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Funding and support provided by:

PLRP is funded by the CSA CARN program and NASA MMAMA program. Additional funding provided by NASA ESMD Analogs, NASA ASTEP and Nuytco Research. Previous support for the program has also been received from the NASA Spaceward Bound Program, the National Geographic Society, and McMaster University.

Recent Blog Posts

A peak into MARSLIFE

by Dana Lis on July 12th, 2011

Anyone still wondering what the “M.A.R.S” in MARSLIFE really stands for? Here’s the ANSWER: Mars Analogue Research: Signatures of Life in Freshwater Environments To start, a little background on the MARSLIFE plan for the 2011 field season. This year we will return to [...]

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Moving to Kelly Lake – and putting our knowledge to the test

by Margarita Marinova on July 6th, 2011

Because Kelly Lake is new, we have put together everything that we had learned from Pavilion Lake – both in terms of the science and the submarine exploration – and are using it to exploring our new Kelly Lake world. [...]

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