An investigation of geological and geochemical characteristics of late-Quaternay sediments in the Georgian Bay Region, Southern Ontario
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Core samples of postglacial sediments and sediment surface samples from Shepherd Lake on the Bruce Peninsula, Harts Lake on the Canadian Shield, and two cores from Georgian Bay (core P-l in the western deep part and core P-7 in the eastern shallow part) have been analyzed for pH, grain size distribution, water content, bulk density, loss on ignition at 4500C and 11000 C, major oxides (Si02 ,A1203,!FeO,MgO,CaO, Na20,K20,Ti02 ,MnO and P205) and trace elements (Ba,Zr,Sr,y,S, Zn,Cu,Ni,Ce and Rb). The sediment in Georgian Bay are generally fine grained (fine silt to very fine silty clay) and the grain size decreases from the Canadian Shield (core p-7) towards the Bruce Peninsula (core P-l) along the assumed direction of sediment transport. This trend coincides with a decrease in sorting coefficient and an increase in roundness. Other physical characteristics, such as water content, bulk density and loss on ignition are positively correlated with the composition of sediments and their compaction, as well as with the energy of the depositional environment. Analyses of sediment surface samples from Shepherd Lake and Harts Lake indicate the influence of bedrock and surficial deposits in the watershed on pH condition that is also influenced by the organic matter content and probably I ! I man's activities. Organic matter content increases significantly in the surface sediment in these small lakes as a result of either natural eutrophication or anthropogenic organic loading. The extremely high organic matter content in Shepherd Lake sediment indicates rapid natural eutrophication in this closed basin and high biological productivity during postglacial time, probably due to high nutrient levels and shallow depth. The chemical composition of the Canadian Shield bedrock is positively correlated with the chemical characteristics of predominantly inorganic lake sediments that were derived from the Shield rocks by glacial abrasion and by postglacial weathering and erosion of both bedrock and surficial deposits. High correlation coefficients were found between organic matter in lake sediments and major oxides (Si02,AI203,.~FeO, MgO,CaO,K20 and MnO) , as well as some trace elements (Ba,Y, S,Zn,Cu,Ni and Rb). The chemical composition of sediments in Harts Lake and core P-7 in Georgian Bay on the Canadian Shield differs from the chemistry of sediments in Shepherd Lake and core P-l in Georgian Bay on the Bruce Peninsula. The difference between cores P-l and P-7 is indicated by values of Si02 , AI203 ,:LFeo,Mgo,CaO,Ba,Zr,Sr,y and S, and also by the organic matter content. This study indicates that the processes of sediment transport, depositional environment, weathering of the rocks and surficial deposits in the watershed, as well as chemical composition of source rocks all affect the chemical characteristics of lake sediments. The stratigraphic changes and variations in lake sediment chemistry with regard to major oxides, trace elements, and organic matter content are probably related to the history of glacial and postglacial lake stages of the Georgian Bay Region and, therefore, the geochemical data can make a useful contribution to a better understanding of the Late-Quaternary history of the Great Lakes.