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Elk Lake is located on the Itasca moraine near the source of the Mississippi River in northwestern Minnesota. The basin is in calcareous glacial drift, and the lake water is a dilute solution of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate. Low-magnesian calcite formed by precipitation from the lake water has been a major component of the sediment throughout the lake’s history. The sediment also is laminated with alternating light and dark, millimeter-thick layers containing diatoms, organic matter, Fe(OH)3, and CaCO3.

The sediment microstratigraphy has been preserved because the lake is unusually deep (maximum depth is 30 m) for...

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