Changes in the water level of Lake Peipsi and their reflection in a sediment core

Research paper by Jaan-Mati Punning, Galina Kapanen, Tiit Hang, Natalia Davydova, Mihkel Kangur

Indexed on: 03 Feb '08Published on: 03 Feb '08Published in: Hydrobiologia


A comprehensive study (chronological, lithological and geochemical) of an 8.5 m postglacial sediment sequence from Lake Peipsi was conducted to elucidate the effects of lake-level changes on the sedimentary environment and biogeochemical dynamics in a large lake. Four lithological units were distinguished in the sediment sequence studied: clayey silt, slightly laminated greyish carbonaceous gyttja, brownish-grey gyttja and dark gyttja. These units indicate that large shifts in sedimentation processes occurred in the past. The sediment data show that fluctuations in water depth had a profound impact on the lake environment, recorded as changes in the lithological composition, phosphorus content of sediments and composition of diatom assemblages. The corresponding changes are best reflected in sediments accumulated during phases of regression when the lake area was also smaller. As the water depth and area of the lake increased, wave-induced erosion and resedimentation smoothed or even disturbed the initial information. The increase of phosphorus content in the unconsolidated, high-porosity surface sediments (0.5 m) is most probably connected with active diffusion and matter exchange between the water-sediment pools.