, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 83-99
Date: 06 Apr 2007

The accuracy of methods used to estimate the whole-lake accumulation rate of organic carbon, major cations, phosphorus and heavy metals in sediment

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The accuracy of three methods used to estimate the whole-lake accumulation rate of chemicals in sediment, the simple mean accumulation rate, regression against water depth and the mean accumulation rate in sedimentation zones, was assessed. The concentrations and accumulation rates of organic carbon, four major cations, phosphorus and four heavy metals in the 1902 to 1988 sediment layer at 43 sites in Kassjön were used and the three methods gave identical results. The accuracy of the simple mean accumulation rate method using 5 or 10 sites was investigated using Monte Carlo simulation and both versions gave accurate results. If the method used the dry sediment accumulation rate at 5 or 10 sites, along with chemical concentration at one central site, then the errors were less than ±10% for five of the chemicals and larger for the others (−20 or 20–40%), although the direction of the bias was predictable. If chemical accumulation rate at the central site only was used to estimate the whole-lake value, the bias increased to 25% for the major cations, 50% for the heavy metals and P, and 85% for organic carbon. Having 43 sites in Kassjön meant that the true whole-lake chemical accumulation rate was known and so the accuracy of the methods and their variants could be assessed for the first time. These findings allow the particulars of the simple mean accumulation rate method to be chosen to suit the accuracy needed for a palaeolimnological investigation.