2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 150-3
Presentation Time: 1:35 PM


DIETZ, Robert D., Water Resources Science Program, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, ENGSTROM, Daniel R., St. Croix Watershed Research Station, Sci Museum of Minnesota, Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047, ALMENDINGER, James E., Saint Croix Watershed Research Station, 16910 152nd St N, Marine On Saint Croix, MN 55047-9794 and SCHOTTLER, Shawn, St. Croix Watershed Research Station, Science Museum of Minnesota, Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047, dietz070@umn.edu

The native landscapes of Minnesota, USA have undergone enormous transformation since Euro-American settlement in the mid-19th Century. Intensive logging has disturbed areas throughout the northern and eastern portions of the state while near-total conversion of tallgrass prairie into farmland, combined with substantial wetland drainage, has created human-dominated agroecosystems in the south and west. These occurrences and subsequent land use practices have unquestionably altered the quantity and timing of sediment fluxes from the terrestrial landscape to aquatic environments, but to what extent? We explored historical relationships (past 150-200 years) between land use and siliciclastic sediment accumulation in 116 lakes spanning 3 ecoregions and multiple land use regimes, including intensive row-crop agriculture. Estimates were constructed using sediment-core chronologies (based on 210Pb, 137Cs) and loss-on-ignition data (% siliciclastic material), with corrections for sediment focusing.

Siliciclastic sediment accumulation rates (SAR) for individual lakes span a wide range, from ~10 to >2000 g m-2 yr-1 (across all time periods). Modern accumulation rates are greatest in lakes located within watersheds dominated by agricultural land uses (median 470 g m-2 yr-1, n=27) and lowest in northern forest lakes (median 77 g m-2 yr-1, n=54). Lakes in watersheds characterized by urban or mixed land uses in the central portion of the state show intermediate SAR (median 123 g m-2 yr-1, n=35). In all but 9 lakes, SAR has increased above natural background rates (pre-settlement). Median SAR has approximately doubled in the northern forested lakes but has not begun to return toward pre-settlement levels, perhaps due to legacy impacts from earlier logging. In the agricultural lakes, median SAR has increased more than fivefold, climbing sharply during initial land clearance and early farming but exhibiting a more muted rise after ~1940. The absence of any significant decline suggests that sediment-control benefits imparted by improved land management and soil conservation practices are: 1) overstated, 2) not yet observed in lake records due to considerable lag time; and/or 3) counterbalanced by increasing sediment fluxes from non-field sources.