Lake Lugano (Lago di Lugano)
organic and inorganic carbon
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The Holocene record of Lake Lugano (southern basin: surface area 20.3 km2, maximum depth 87 m) comprising organic carbon-rich sediments (sapropels), is divided into eight intervals based on radiocarbon- and varve-dating. The content of organic carbon, inorganic carbon, and biogenic silica, as well as the benthic remains of ostracods and oligochaetes, are converted into accumulation rates and benthic abundances in order to assess past production rates and bottom water oxygen status, respectively. The results suggest three periods of distinct palaeolimnological character: (i) low primary production combined with shifts between aerobic and anaerobic profundal conditions (prior to ca. 3000 BC), (ii) moderate rates of production combined with a relatively high profundal oxygen content (after ca. 1500 BC), and (iii), high production rates (460 g C m−2 a−1) combined with anaerobic profundal conditions (present eutrophic state). Corresponding organic carbon contents in the sediments are: up to 5% (i), 4% (ii), and 8% (iii). Until the beginning of this century, the flux of autochthonous sediments to the lake floor correlated with the fluctuations in the allochthonous sediment accumulation rate, indicating that catchment erosion largely controlled lacustrine production during the Holocene history of Lake Lugano. Pollen data show catchment-vegetational transformations at ca. 3500 BC (change from fir to beech forests), at 1400 BC (onset of cereal vegetation) and at ca. A.D. 450 (strong increase in various cultural plants). The first two changes had a relatively large imprint on lacustrine sedimentation. At ca. 3500 BP, erosion increase in the catchment was triggered by vegetation changes in the mountain zone above ca. 1000 m a. s. l., which may have been induced by climatic and human alteration (drop in the treeline altitude). Maximum catchment erosion occurred at ca. 1400 BC which was clearly dominated by human cultivation during the Bronze Age. More oxygenated profundal conditions in the lake after ca. 3000 BC are possibly related to a better mixing of the lake waters during the winter season by increased wind activity.
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