Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 273–291 | Cite as

Re-examination of air-gun profiles from Lake Biwa (Japan), and depositional history of the lake in the Pliocene-quaternary

  • Taqumi TuZinoEmail author
Original Paper


Re-examination of a seismic survey taken with a 120-inch3 air gun and 12-channel streamer along 267 km, revealed five stratigraphic units overlying the acoustic basement in the central and northern subbasins of Lake Biwa, Japan: seismic units Tau, Sigma, Rho, Qoppa and Pi, in descending order. Units Tau, Sigma, and Rho are correlative to the clayey T, sandy S, and silty R lithologic units, respectively, in a 1,400-m drill core. Unit Tau is subdivided into Tau4, Tau3, Tau2, and Tau1, in descending order, and Sigma is subdivided into Sigma2 and Sigma1, in descending order. The unit distribution and acoustic facies reveal that the depocentre migrated from the central to the northern subbasin from Sigma1 to Tau2. Based on growth strata around the central flexure bounding the subbasins, northern subbasin subsidence accelerated after the Tau3 period. In the northern subbasin, Sigma1 directly overlies the basement, which has a constant height. Before the Sigma1 period, only the central subbasin existed, and the northern subbasin was undergoing erosion. Although Tau is generally composed of moderate-amplitude, continuous reflections, Tau1 in the northern subbasin consists of high-amplitude, less continuous reflections, like unit Sigma. This seismic facies can be interpreted as reflecting shallow lacustrine or fluvial conditions. The northern subbasin was probably still shallow in the Tau1 period. In the subsequent Tau2 period, basinwide profundal lacustrine deposition occurred. Tau2 and Tau3 have three backstepping packages with downlap terminations in the northern subbasin, which suggest repetitive transgressions, probably induced by interglacial climate in marine isotope stages 7 and 5.


Japan Lake Biwa Lake level history Pleistocene Backstep Seismic stratigraphy 



This article used published seismic profiles obtained in 1979–1980. Data acquisition was funded by Grants-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan, and directed by emeritus Professor S. Horie of Kyoto University and Dr. T. Ikawa of JAPEX. Professor K. Takemura of Kyoto University and emeritus Professor T. Yokoyama of Dōshisha University led the palaeolimnologic studies on Lake Biwa. The author is greatly indebted to them. Thanks are extended to Professor Y. Inouchi, Ehime University for high-resolution seismic surveys in 1985 (unpublished). Analyses and presentation in this article were carried out with open-source softwares GMT, SU, and Grass. Critical reading by four anonymous reviewers and editors; William M. Last and Mark Brenner greatly benefited this article. Finally, the author dedicates this article to T. K. Nozomi, who kindly supported the study, and Professor S. Horie.


  1. Akai K, Kamon M (1987) Geotechnical properties of Lake Biwa sediment. In: Horie S (ed) Lake Biwa. Dr. W. Junk, Dordrecht, pp 111–119Google Scholar
  2. Emery D, Myers K (1996) Sequence stratigraphy. Blackwell, Oxford 297 ppCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fuji N (1988) Paleovegitation and paleoclimate changes around Lake Biwa, Japan during the last ca. 3 million years. Quat Sci Rev 7:21–28. doi: 10.1016/0277-3791(88)90090-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Horie S (1983) Paleolimnology of Lake Biwa and the Japanese Pleistocene, 11. Inst. Paleolim. Paleoenvirom. Lake Biwa, Kyoto University, Takashima, 99 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Horie S (ed) (1984) Lake Biwa. Junk, Dordrecht, 654 ppGoogle Scholar
  6. Horie S (1987) Absolute age determination on Lake Biwa core. In: Horie S (ed) History of Lake Biwa. Inst. Paleolimnol. Paleoenvirom. Lake Biwa, Kyoto University, Takashima, pp 77–79Google Scholar
  7. Horie S (1991) Die Geschichte des Biwa Sees in Japan. Universitätsverlag-Wagner, Innsbruck 346 ppGoogle Scholar
  8. Imbrie J, Hays JD, Martinson DG, McIntyre A, Mix AC, Morley JJ, Pisias NG, Prell WL, Shackleton NJ (1984) The orbital theory of Pleistocene climate: support from a revised chronology of the marine δ18 O record. In: Berger AL et al (eds) Milankovitch and climate. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp 269–305Google Scholar
  9. Inouch Y (1987) Acoustic estimation method of sedimentation rate: case study in Lake Biwa. Chikyu Kagaku 41:231–241 Earth ScienceGoogle Scholar
  10. Ishiwatari R, Uzaki M (1987) Diagenetic changes of lignin compounds in a more than 0.6 million-years-old lacustrine sediment (Lake Biwa, Japan). Geochim Cosmochim Acta 51:321–328. doi: 10.1016/0016-7037(87)90244-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kuwae M, Yoshioka S, Inouchi Y (2002) A diatom record for the past 400 ka from Lake Biwa in Japan correlates with global paleoclimatic trends. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 183:261–274. doi: 10.1016/S0031-0182(01)00490-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Matsuoka C (1978) Geological sheet map of Shiga Prefecture, Scale 1:100,000. Nature Conservation Foundation of Shiga Prefecture (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  13. Meyers PA, Takemura K, Horie S (1993) Reinterpretation of late quaternary sedi-ment chronology of Lake Biwa, Japan, from correlation with marine glacial-interglacial cycles. Quat Res 39:154–162. doi: 10.1006/qres.1993.1019 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Miall AD (1999) Principles of sedimentary basin analysis, 3rd edn. Springer-Verlag, Berlin 616 ppGoogle Scholar
  15. Mitchum RM Jr, Vail PR, Thompson S III (1977) Seismic stratigraphy and global changes of sea-level: part 2. The depositional sequence as a basic unit for strati-graphic analysis. In: Payton CE (ed) Seismic stratigraphy—applications to hydrocarbon exploration, vol 26. AAPG, Tulsa, pp 53–62Google Scholar
  16. Miyata Y (1990) Coastal depositional sequence and tectonically-controlled water-level changes of the Lake Biwa, central Japan. J Sediment Soc Jpn 33:29–36 (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  17. Miyata Y, Yamamura T, Nabetani A, Iwata T, Obata M, Yuuki T, Tokuhashi S (1990) Formation processes of lacstrine deltas—an example from the Echi River Delta, Lake Biwa. 2; Geological setting and sedimentary facies. J Geol Soc Jpn 96:839–858 (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  18. Miyoshi N, Fujiki T, Morita Y (1999) Palynology of a 250 m core from Lake Biwa: a 430, 000-year record of glacial-interglacial vegetation change in Japan. Rev Palaeobot Palyno 104:267–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ohashi K (1978) Lake level history of Lake Biwa, deduced from terrace distribution. Chigaku Kyoiku (Earth Sci Educ) 31(3):75–81 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  20. Research Group for Natural History of Lake Biwa (1994) The natural history of Lake Biwa. Yasaka Shobô, Kyoto 340 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. Sheriff RF, Geldart LP (1995) Exploration seismology, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 593 ppGoogle Scholar
  22. Street-Perrott FA, Harrison SP (1984) Temporal variations in lake levels since 30,000 yr BP—an index of the global hydrological cycle. Geophys Monogr 29:118–129Google Scholar
  23. Suppe J, Show GT, Hook SC (1992) Rates od folding and faulting determined from growth strata. In: Mcklay KR (ed) Thrust tectonics. Chapman & Hall, London, pp 105–121Google Scholar
  24. Taishi H, Inouch Y, Meguro T (1987) Continuous seismic reflection sub-bottom pro-filing with “Uniboom” in the North Basin of Lake Biwa—the structures of sedimentary layers and the origin of prominent acoustic reflectors. Geophysical Bulletin of Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan 49:251–268 (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  25. Takemura K (1990) Tectonic and climatic record of the Lake Biwa, Japan, region pro-vided by the sediments deposited since Pliocene times. Palaeogeogra Palaeocli- mat Palaeoecol 78:185–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Takemura K, Yokoyama T (1989) Sedimentary environments inferred from lithofacies of the Lake Biwa, 1,400 m core sample, Japan. Jpn J Limnol 50:247–254Google Scholar
  27. Tomita K, Horie S, Kawano M (1992) Mineral composition of the upper 800 m of 1400 m sediment core samples from Lake Biwa. J Miner Petrol Econ Geol 87:481–490Google Scholar
  28. Torii M, Shibuya H, Hayashida A, Katsura I, Yoshida S, Tagami T, Otofuji Y, Maeda Y, Sasajima S, Horie S (1986) Magnetostratigraphy of sub-bottom sediments from Lake Biwa. P Jpn Acad 62:333–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Toyoda K (2003) Chemical composition of a drilled core of Lake Biwa in Japan and implications for source change during the past 430, 000 years. Quat Int 105:57–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. TuZino T (2006) Conversion technique from paper-based seismic profiles to SEG-Y digital data, provided by free softwares. J Jpn Mar Surv Technol 18:27–38 (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  31. Uemura Y, Taishi H (1990) Active tectonics of the bottom of Lake Biwa and devel-opment of Lake Biwa, Southwest Japan. Geogr Rev Jpn 63(A-11):722 (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  32. Vail PR, Mitchum RM Jr, Thompson S III (1977) Seismic stratigraphy and global changes of sea level: part 4, global cycles of relative changes of sea level. In: Payton CE (ed) Seismic stratigraphy: applications to hydrocarbon exploration, vol 26. AAPG, Tulsa, pp 83–97Google Scholar
  33. Xiao J, Inouch Y, Kumai H, Yoshikawa S, Kondo Y, Liu T, An Z (1997a) Fluvial quartz flux to Lake Biwa of central Japan over the past 145,000 years. Quat Res (Daikyonki Kenkyu) 36:17–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Xiao J, Inouch Y, Kumai H, Yoshikawa S, Kondo Y, Liu T, An Z (1997b) Biogenetic silica record in Lake Biwa of central Japan over the past 145,000 years. Quat Res 47:277–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Xiao J, Inouch Y, Kumai H, Yoshikawa S, Kondo Y, Liu T, An Z (1997c) Eolian quartz flux to Lake Biwa, central Japan, over the past 145000 years. Quat Res 48:48–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yamamoto A (1984) Grain size variation. In: Horie S (ed) Lake Biwa. Dr. W. Junk, Dordrecht, pp 439–459Google Scholar
  37. Yamamoto A, Higashihara M, Meguro T, Taishi H (1981) On properties of bottom sediments and sedimentation processes in Lake Biwa. In: Horie S (ed) Paleolimnology of Lake Biwa and the Japanese Pleistocene 9, Kyoto University, Takashima, pp 73–93Google Scholar
  38. Yamamoto A, Kashiwaya K, Fukuyama K (1985) Periodic variations of grain size in Pleistocene sediments in Lake Biwa and Earth-orbital cycles. Geophys Res Lett 12:585–588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yokoyama T (1984) Stratigraphy of the quaternary system around Lake Biwa and geohistory of the ancient Lake Biwa. In: Horie S (ed) Lake Biwa. Junk, The Hague, pp 43–128Google Scholar
  40. Yokoyama T (1986) Tephrostratigraphy of sediments of actual Lake Biwa based on re-fractive indices of volcanic glasses in the deep drilled cores from the bottom of Lake Biwa, Japan. J Geol Soc Jpn 92:653–661Google Scholar
  41. Yoshikawa S, Inouchi Y (1993) Middle Pleistocene to Holocene explosive volcanism revealed by ashes of the Takashima-oki core samples from Lake Biwa, central Japan. Earth Sci (Chikyu Kagaku) 47:97–109 (in Japanese with English abstract)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Survey of Japan, AISTTsukubaJapan

Personalised recommendations