Paleo Mega Lake of Rey, the Largest Lake in world History

Lay summary authored by Hadi Jarahi. Read the full paper here:

I have done extensive research into the morphologic evidence of an ancient lake in Iran. The evidence was, in fact, the remains of the escarps located on the lake’s shore. The height of the escarps ranged from 1 m to 15 m and they were up to 45 km long. The common feature among all of them is that, along the stretches, they all follow specific topographic altitudes. As a result of the various cycles of transgression and regression of the lake, numerous escarps have been formed. In the satellite image, in particular, those dating back to 1970s, the escarps can be seen as white parallel narrow bands. My purpose is to discover the unknowns regarding this lake, and in doing so, I’d like to conduct more comprehensive research and focus on dating, to modeling the paleoclimatic and paleomorphologic conditions of the lake.

Figure 1: Kahrizak scarp in the southeast of Tehran; Corona satellite imagery (1968) of PS-A1; Aerial image of PS-A2 scarp; Worm tubes are abundant in the samples; Broken pieces of the ancient pottery can be seen abundantly on the top of the scarp. Photo credit: H. Jarahi.

In my research, different water levels were investigated, and the major and minor altitudes were determined based on the sediment remains. Additionally, the materials of the sediment were examined. Currently, I am working on my second study on the paleogeography and paleomorphology of the lake. My findings have revealed surprising evidence for the effect of water erosion on the highlands, which were in fact islands in the lake. The drainage basin’s conditions and the amount of water in the lake were also evaluated, and it became clear that the lake contained almost 1.7 times as much water as is found in the Caspian Sea today. The approximate age of the lake puts it in the Younger Dryas. Obtaining more detailed information requires more comprehensive field studies and dating for different altitudes, which could enable us to make comments on the lake with a higher degree of certainty.

Full paper: Jarahi, H., 2021. Paleo Mega Lake of Rey Identification and Reconstruction of Quaternary Lake in Central Iran. Open Quaternary, 7(1), p.7. DOI:

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