Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of
Date of this Version
High biogenic silica (BSi) concentrations occur sporadically in lake sediments throughout the world; however, the processes leading to high BSi concentrations vary. We explored the factors responsible for the high BSi concentration in sediments of a small, high-latitude subarctic lake (Lake 850). The Si budget of this lake had not been fully characterized before to establish the drivers of BSi accumulation in this environment. To do this, we combined measurements of variations in stream discharge, dissolved silica (DSi) concentrations, and stable Si isotopes in both lake and stream water with measurements of BSi content in lake sediments. Water, radon, and Si mass balances revealed the importance of groundwater discharge as a main source of DSi to the lake, with groundwater-derived DSi inputs 3 times higher than those from ephemeral stream inlets. After including all external DSi sources (i.e., inlets and groundwater discharge) and estimating the total BSi accumulation in the sediment, we show that diatom production consumes up to 79 % of total DSi input. Additionally, low sediment accumulation rates were observed based on the dated gravity core. Our findings thus demonstrate that groundwater discharge and low mass accumulation rate can account for the high BSi accumulation during the last 150 cal yr BP. Globally, lakes have been estimated to retain one-fifth of the annual DSi terrestrial weathering flux that would otherwise be delivered to the ocean. Well-constrained lake mass balances, such as presented here, bring clarity to those estimates of the terrestrial Si cycle sinks.