Varved lake sediments and diagenetic processes

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap

Sammanfattning: Varved (annually laminated) sediments are of great interest for inference of past environmental conditions, as they provide dated records with high time resolution. After deposition, the sediment varves are affected by diagenesis; i.e., chemical, physical and biological changes that occur within the sediment. An important premise when reconstructing past environmental conditions using lake sediments is that the signal of interest is preserved in the sediment. In this thesis I have used a unique collection of ten stored freeze cores of varved lake sediment from Nylandssjön in northern Sweden, collected from 1979 to 2007. The suite of cores made it possible to follow long-term (up to 27 years) changes in iron (Fe), sulfur (S), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), ?13C and ?15N in the sediment caused by processes that occur in the lake bottom as the sediment ages. The sediment geochemistry and resulting changes were followed in years for which there are surface varves in the core series. Fe and S concentrations analyzed by X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy showed no diagenetic front in the sediment and the data do not suggest a substantial vertical transport of Fe and S in the sediment. A model based on thermodynamic, limnological, and sediment data from the lake, showed that there are pe (redox) ranges within which either FeS (reduced specie) or Fe(OH)3/FeOOH oxidized species) is the only solid phase present and there are pe ranges within which the two solid phases co-exist. This supports the hypothesis that blackish and grey-brownish Fe-layers that occur in the varves were formed at the time of deposition. C and N analyzed with an elemental analyzer showed that within the first five years after deposition the C concentration of the sediment decreased by 20% and N by 30%, and after 27 yr in the sediment, there was a 23% loss of C and 35% loss of N. The C:N ratio increased with increasing age of the sediment; from ~ 10 in the surface varves to ~12 after 27 years of aging. ?13C and ?15N analyzed on a mass spectrometer showed that ?13C increased by 0.4-1.5‰ units during the first five years, after that only minor fluctuations in ?13C were recorded. Another pattern was seen for ?15N, with a gradual decrease of 0.3-0.7‰ units over the entire 27-year-period. The diagenetic changes in the stable isotope values that occur in Nylandssjön are minor, but they are of about the same magnitude as the variation in the isotopic signal in the varves deposited between 1950-2006.My results show that diagenesis does not change the visual appearance of the varves, except for varve thickness; the varves get thinner as the sediment ages. As the color of Fe in the varves likely reflects the environmental conditions at the time of deposition this creates possibilities for deciphering high-temporal-resolution information of past hypolimnetic oxygen conditions from varves. My findings on C, N, ?13C and ?15N will have implications for interpretations of paleolimnological data. The diagenetic effects should be carefully taken into consideration when C, N, ?13C and ?15N in sediment cores are used to study organic matter sources or paleoproductivity, in particular when dealing with relatively small and recent changes.In addition to the significance of diagenetic effects on sediment parameters, a comparison of the varves in Nylandssjön and the adjacent lake Koltjärnen, and the two deep basins of Nylandssjön show that subtle features in the lakes and their catchments affect the appearance of the varves, which make interpretation of varves complicated.