• Paleoindicators of meromixis

      Cheek, Michael Ross.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1979-07-09)
      This study was undertaken to ascertain whether meromictic lakes could be differentiated from holomictic lakes on the basis of their surficial profundal sediments. Surface sediment cores (15 cm long) were collected from both the littoral and profundal zones of four meromictic and six holomictic lakes and analyzed for total number of fossil chironomid headcapsu~es, chlorophyll and carotenoid degradation products as well as \ iron and manganese concentrations. Littoral and profundal comparisons of the surface sediments were made between the two lake types using the Mann-Whitney U test. Iron, manganese and the iron to manganese ratio in the littoral sediments of meromictic lakes were significantly lower than those found in the littoral sediments of holomictic lakes. The observed differences are believed to represent an artifact of the significantly higher carbonate concentrations found in three of the four meromictic lakes studied. Profundal and littoral to profundal ratio comparison between holomictic and meromictic lakes suggest that the significantly lower iron and higher carotenoid concentrations in meromictic profundal sediments were a con~equence of meromixis. However, the overlap in distribution exhibited by both iron and carotenoid degradation products between the two lake types was sufficiently large in this study to nullify their use as a means of differentiating meromictic from holomictic lakes. A long core (4.25 m) was removed from the deepest part of the meromictic Crawford Lake (Ontario), sectioned at 5 cm intervals, and analyzed to assess when meromixis occurred, based on its fossil record. Temporal changes in the total number of chironomid headcapsules, and chlorophyll and carotenoid sediment degradation products were closely correlated with organic matter, indicating in my opinion that extensive redeposition of littoral chironomid headcapsules in the profundal zone has occurred. Temporal variations in carotenoid degradation products, in response to changes in organic matter, obscured increased preservation that may have occurred as a consequence of meromixis. Temporal variations in iron and manganese suggest that relatively stable redox conditions have existed throughout most of the lake's history. Therefore it would appear that Crawford Lake has been meromictic since its inception.