Sediment deposition and sources into a Mississippi River floodplain lake; Catahoula Lake, Louisiana

Karen D. Latuso, Richard F. Keim, Sammy L. King, David C. Weindorf, Ronald D. DeLaune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Floodplain lakes are important wetlands on many lowland floodplains of the world but depressional floodplain lakes are rare in the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley. One of the largest is Catahoula Lake, which has existed with seasonally fluctuating water levels for several thousand years but is now in an increasingly hydrologically altered floodplain. Woody vegetation has been encroaching into the lake bed and the rate of this expansion has increased since major human hydrologic modifications, such as channelization, levee construction, and. dredging for improvement of navigation, but it remains unknown what role those modifications may have played in altering lake sedimentation processes. Profiles of thirteen 137Cs sediment cores indicate sedimentation has been about 0.26 cm y− 1 over the past 60 years and has been near this rate since land use changes began about 200 years ago (210Pb, and 14C in Tedford, 2009). Carbon sequestration was low (10.4 g m− 2 y− 1), likely because annual drying promotes mineralization and export. Elemental composition (high Zr and Ti and low Ca and K) and low pH of recent (<~60 y) or surface sediments suggest Gulf Coastal Plain origin, but below the recent sediment deposits, 51% of sediment profiles showed influence of Mississippi River alluvium, rich in base cations such as K+, Ca2 +, and Mg2 +. The recent shift to dominance of Coastal Plain sediments on the lake-bed surface suggests hydrologic modification has disconnected the lake from sediment-bearing flows from the Mississippi River. Compared to its condition prior to hydrologic alterations that intensified in the 1930s, Catahoula Lake is about 15 cm shallower and surficial sediments are more acidic. Although these results are not sufficient to attribute ecological changes directly to sedimentological changes, it is likely the altered sedimentary and hydrologic environment is contributing to the increased dominance of woody vegetation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-297
Number of pages8
JournalCatena
Volume156
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

Keywords

  • Carbon sequestration
  • Catahoula lake
  • Floodplain depression
  • Mississippi Alluvial Valley
  • Rim swamp
  • Sedimentation

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