A novel repeat-coring approach to reconstruct recent sediment, phosphorus, and mercury loading from the upper Mississippi River to Lake Pepin, USA
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- Blumentritt, D.J., Engstrom, D.R. & Balogh, S.J. J Paleolimnol (2013) 50: 293. doi:10.1007/s10933-013-9724-8
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It can be advantageous to revisit coring locations in lakes years after an initial paleolimnological study is completed, to assess environmental changes in the intervening time interval. We revisited sediment core sites in Lake Pepin (Minnesota, Wisconsin) more than a decade after an original set of 10 cores was collected, dated radiometrically, and studied in 1996. Prominent magnetic susceptibility features were used to align the new core set with the older set, such that traditional radiometric dating was not necessary to obtain a chronology for the new cores. The procedure used to align the two core sets accounted for compaction of former surface sediments by burial with new sediment. The amount of new sediment, mercury, and phosphorus accumulated at each core site was determined and extrapolated to the depositional area of the lake to estimate recent (1996–2008) whole-basin loads. Recent sediment accumulation in Lake Pepin compared well (within 3%) with monitored inflow data from a gauging station on the upper Mississippi River just before it enters the lake. Bulk sediment accumulation rate remained very high (772,000 t/year) for the recent period (1996–2008), down slightly from the peak in 1990–1996 (876,000 t/year), and almost an order of magnitude above pre-settlement rates. Total phosphorus deposition remained constant since a peak in the 1960s, but was also well above pre-settlement rates. Mercury continued its precipitous decline since peaking in the 1960s.