, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 117–126 | Cite as

Extreme water level decline effects sediment distribution and composition in Lake Alexandrina, South Australia

  • Dominic Skinner
  • Rod Oliver
  • Kane Aldridge
  • Justin Brookes
Research paper


Water level decline affects the biophysical environment of shallow lakes. Unprecedented drought in Australia’s Murray–Darling Basin resulted in extreme water level drawdown in the large, shallow Lake Alexandrina at the end of the River Murray. Surface sediment was collected from 22 sites in the lake before and after water levels declined to assess the integrated limnological changes over the period of drawdown. Results indicate an increase in the proportion of organic particles in profundal sediments, as well as an increase of fine particles (<19.9 μm) in peripheral sediments. These changes to sediment composition corresponded to higher concentrations of suspended particles at low water levels. Increased autochthony and a shift in primary production from macrophytes to phytoplankton in Lake Alexandrina support these findings. Inorganic carbon and other nutrients were lost from sandy sediments most likely through carbonate dissolution driven by a localized decrease in pore water pH from increased mineralisation of organic matter.


Drought Shallow lakes Carbon Sediment redistribution Sediment resuspension 


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Limnology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominic Skinner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rod Oliver
    • 3
  • Kane Aldridge
    • 1
  • Justin Brookes
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Infrastructure EngineeringThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research OrganisationGlen OsmondAustralia

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