Nutrient and trace-element enrichment of Coeur d'Alene Lake, Idaho

Open-File Report 95-740




The limnological characteristics and geochemistry of lakebed sediments in Coeur d'Alene Lake, a 129-square-kilometer, natural lake in northern Idaho, were assessed during 1991-92 because of the possible interaction of nutrient enrichment with the highly enriched trace-element concentrations stored in the lakebed. The lake was classified as oligotrophic during 1991-92 on the basis of annual geometric mean concentrations, in micrograms per liter, of total phosphorus (4.1), total nitrogen (247), and chlorophyll-a (0.54). Despite its oligotrophy, the lake developed a substantial hypolimnetic dissolved-oxygen deficit in both years during the later stage of thermal stratification. The lake's current trophic state of oligotrophic differs from the mesotrophic ranking it received in 1975 during the National Eutrophication Survey. The shift in trophic state was consistent with nutrient-load reductions that have occurred within the lake's 9,690-square-kilometer drainage basin since the early 1970's. Approximately 85 percent of the lakebed's surface area was highly enriched in antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, silver, and zinc. Mean total concentrations, in milligrams per kilogram, for cadmium, lead, and zinc in the enriched lakebed sediments were, respectively, 62, 1,900, and 3,600. In contrast, the concentrations of cadmium, lead, and zinc in unenriched lakebed sediments in the lake's southern end were, respec- tively, 2.8, 24, and 110 milligrams per kilogram. The vast majority of the trace elements in the surficial and subsurface sediments were associated with ferric oxides, not sulfides as previously postulated. Under reducing conditions, such as within as anoxic hypolimnon, the ferric oxide- associated trace elements would be readily soluble and available for release into the overlying water column. (USGS)

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Nutrient and trace-element enrichment of Coeur d'Alene Lake, Idaho
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
vii, 122 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.