Abstract

The hydrologic and limnologic conditions of Sunwapta Lake, a small proglacial lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, were investigated with special reference to the sedimentology of this lake. Discharge and suspended sediment concentrations of the inflowing streams were measured to give estimates of sediment input. Distribution of large loads of fine glacial sediment is largely by an inflow- and wind-controlled circulation, which commonly fluctuates diurnally. The spatial distribution of sedimentation was determined by use of sediment-collecting pans placed on the lake bed. Turbidity currents are rare with only one event monitored in 2 years. This event was caused by a burst of highly sediment-charged inflow water. The rarity of turbidity currents is attributed to the high sediment concentration in the lake water, which results from the small size of the lake in relation to the inflow. Wind-generated water movement at the lake floor ranges from 0.0–0.03 m/s while the maximum recorded velocity of the turbidity currents was 0.32 m/s.Sedimentation rates are calculated and six cores from the lake bed, each containing sediment deposited over several years, are described. Although bedding and lamination are found in all cores, correlation between cores was not possible. Sedimentary characteristics are related to inflow and lake conditions: laminated and massive beds of medium to fine sand and silt are related to turbidity events, graded laminae in coarse and fine silt to diurnal variations in lake currents, and massive beds in silt to periods of continuous sedimentation without diurnal variation. Deformed beds result from subaqueous slumps.

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