Combined magnetic and geochemical studies were conducted on sediments from White Rock Lake, a reservoir in suburban Dallas (USA), to investigate how land use has affected sediment and water quality since the reservoir was filled in 1912. The chronology of a 167-cm-long core is constrained by the recognition of the pre-reservoir surface and by 137Cs results. In the reservoir sediments, magnetic susceptibility (MS) and isothermal remanent magnetization (IRM) are largely carried by detrital titanomagnetite that originally formed in igneous rocks. Titanomagnetite and associated hematite are the dominant iron oxides in a sample from the surficial deposit in the watershed but are absent in the underlying Austin Chalk. Therefore, these minerals were transported by wind into the watershed. After about 1960, systematic decreases in Ti, Fe, and Al suggest diminished input of detrital Fe-Ti oxides from the surficial deposits. MS and IRM remain constant over this interval, however, implying compensation by an increase in strongly magnetic material derived from human activity. Anthropogenic magnetite in rust and ferrite spherules (from fly ash?) are more common in sediment deposited after about 1970 than before and may account for the constant magnetization despite the implied decrease in detrital Fe-Ti oxides. An unexpected finding is the presence of authigenic greigite (Fe3S4), the abundance of which is at least partly controlled by climate. Greigite is common in sediments that predate about 1975, with zones of concentration indicated by relatively high IRM/MS. High greigite contents in sediment deposited during the early to mid-1950s and during the mid-1930s correspond to several-year periods of below-average precipitation and drought from historical records. Relatively long water-residence times in the reservoir during these periods may have led to elevated levels of sulfate available for bacterial sulfate reduction. The sulfate was probably derived via the oxidation of pyrite that is common in the underlying Austin Chalk. These results provide a basis for the paleoenvironmental interpretation of greigite occurrence in older lake sediments. The results also indicate that greigite formed rapidly and imply that it can be preserved in the amounts produced over a short time span (in this lake, only a few years). This finding thus suggests that, in some lacustrine settings, greigite is capable of recording paleomagnetic secular variation.
Additional Publication Details
Greigite (Fe3S4) as an indicator of drought - The 1912-1994 sediment magnetic record from White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas, USA