Magnetic and sedimentological analyses of quaternary lake sediments from the English Lake District
AuthorsMcLean, Donald C.H.
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AbstractResults of mineral magnetic, mobile clement, and granulometric analyses of Holocene sediments from Buttermere and Crummock Water (two closely-linked lakes in the north-west of the English Lake District) are presented. These are used to: (1) identify effects of internal (lacustrine) and external (catchment) controls on sedimentation; (2) establish catchment source-lake sediment linkages and assess the value of mineral magnetic techniques in palaeolimnological studies; (3) identify major catchment environmental changes. Analyses of lake sediment fabrics (using sediment thin sections, SEM clay flake analysis, standard granulometric analysis, and mineral magnetic indicators of grain size change) indicate that river plume sedimentation is the normal sediment dispersal mechanism in these lakes. Thin (<= 3.0 mm) chlorite-rich laminae, found at intervals in the otherwise homogeneous Holocene sediment sequence, are probably formed by trapping and concentration of fine, platy particles within lake waters. They are subsequently deposited during lake overturn. This represents an "internal" control on sedimentation. A model of sedimentation processes operating in these lakes is developed, incorporating river plume sedimentation, episodic density surges, and lake thermal structure. Mineral magnetic measurements allow the objective subdivision of the lacustrine lithostratigraphy, identifying broad changes in lake sediment characteristics. Samples from both lake catchments are clustered into six magnetically distinct groups - despite the lithological complexity of the catchment. Comparison of these with the lake sediments has enabled identification of major sources during the Holocene. Following deposition of relatively unaltered bedrock-derived material during the Late-glacial ("primary" sources), secondary sources (which may include glacial diamicts, soils and stream sediments) dominate the lake sediments. Direct input of topsoil-derived sediment from circa 1000 A.D. onwards (during and following the main period of Norse settlement of the Lake District) is identified by its distinctive mineral magnetic characteristics, (high Xfd% values, >-4%). Industrially-derived magnetic spherules contribute significantly to the mineral magnetic characteristics of the more recent sediments, (mainly those post-dating circa 1900 A.D.). These are used to construct a proxy chronology for recent sediments. Catchment environmental changes arc mainly related to stabilisation of vegetation following deglaciation and, from circa 2,000 B.P., anthropogenic effects of deforestation and land disturbance, thus increasing lake sediment accumulation rates. These findings are broadly consistent with the interpretation of the Lake District Post-glacial sediment sequence presented in studies by Mackereth, (1966a), and Pennington, (1981), demonstrating a uniformity of lake and catchment development within the Lake District. A prominent minerogenic layer present in the Buttermere and Crummock Water sediment sequence however broadly correlates with similar horizons deposited in other Lake District lakes from circa 7,400 - 5,000 B.P. These have been previously interpreted as composed of topsoil-derived material derived from human actions, (Pennington 1973, 1981). In the Buttermere and Crummock Water sediments, this layer is best interpreted as derived from glaciogenic sediment') reworked from within the lake basins, probably following lowered lake water levels during the period circa 7,300 - 5,300 B.P. Thus it is suggested that a reinterpretation of similar Lake District lacustrine sediments using the methods employed in this study would be appropriate.
CitationMcLean, D.C.H. (1991) 'Magnetic and sedimentological analyses of quaternary lake sediments from the English Lake District'. PhD thesis. Luton College of Higher Education.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
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