Geochemical studies of the ecosystems of 184 Siberian lakes in three largest zones of northern Asia (humid, arid, and semiarid) and in mountainous area were carried out. The contents of natural radionuclides, radiocesium, and rare-earth elements in conjugate components of the systems and the types of the main sources of the bottom sediment material have been determined.
Dating of the bottom sediments was made by the activity of radioisotopes 137Cs and 210Pb, which permitted estimation of the sedimentation rates in lakes in different regions of Siberia: 0.35 cm/year in the south and 0.25–0.3 cm/year in the north.
Six main ions have been determined in the waters of the studied lakes: Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, , , and Cl−. The distribution of natural radionuclides in the stratified sections of bottom sediments of Siberian lakes evidences the stable sedimentation and characterizes their contents in the soils of water-catchment areas, which can be considered background contents there. Sediments enriched in organic matter have higher concentrations of U and lower ones of Th and K. The Th/K ratio in the studied bottom sediments is the same as in the soils. The Th/U ratios are somewhat lower than those in the soils because U is accumulated by chemogenic and organic components. The overall 137Cs pollution of bottom sediments of Siberian lakes is close to the global background (40 mCi/km2 in 2000), but in the Altai Territory and Buryatia and Altai Republics it is twice higher. The uneven areal and temporal distribution of residual radiocesium is observed not only in the lacustrine sediments but also in the lake water areas. The REE patterns of bottom sediments of different mineral types are similar to those of continental crust and clays of the Russian Platform, though organogenic and carbonate sediments have higher absolute REE contents than terrigenous ones. Pelitic fraction is the main REE concentrator in the bottom sediments.