Abstract

Modern sedimentary processes were studied in Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory, to determine the spatial and temporal patterns of sediment distribution in a large, dynamic, glacier-fed lake. Data from a river monitoring station, moored instruments, sediment traps, and water-column profiles in the lake were used to document lacustrine sedimentary processes in 2006 and 2007. During the peak melt season, the suspended sediment concentration of Slims River is weakly dependent on river discharge and can reach up to 5 g L–1, although a diurnal range between 1 and 2 g L–1 is more commonly observed. The high suspended sediment load in the river generates continuous, diurnally fluctuating turbidity currents in Kluane Lake with maximum velocities up to 0.6 m s–1. During times of peak flow, variations in velocity can be traced to beyond 4 km from the river mouth. The vertical concentration profiles, mass accumulation rates, and suspended sediment loads show distinctive longitudinal variations; the highest rate of accumulation occurs ∼1 km from the point of inflow, which is concurrent with a distinct change in flow structure. Diurnal laminations are apparent in sediment traps close to the point of inflow and can be directly linked to variations in current velocity; however, these laminations do not occur consistently over space or time. These results suggest that long-term measurement records of lacustrine turbidity currents provide valuable insights regarding the multiple scales of environmental variability and have important implications for paleoenvironmental reconstruction using lacustrine sediments.

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