Bathymetry and Sediment Geochemistry of Lake Hazen (Quttinirpaaq National Park, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut)

  • G. Köck
  • D. Muir
  • F. Yang
  • X. Wang
  • C. Talbot
  • N. Gantner
  • D. Moser
Keywords: bathymetry, sediment, metals, depth sounding, lake volume, water residence time, radiometric, dating


Arctic lakes can provide a long-term perspective on environmental change, including trends in long-range atmospheric transport and deposition of contaminants, inferred from studies of sediment cores. In this study, we conducted the first detailed bathymetric survey of Lake Hazen (Quttinirpaaq National Park, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut), the world’s largest lake north of 74˚ latitude. With these data we were able to determine optimal locations for sediment coring and to collect and analyze profundal sediment cores. A bathymetric map of Lake Hazen was developed on the basis of 362 spot soundings obtained with GPS-coupled sounding equipment placed directly on the ice combined with additional soundings from a small boat. The deepest point in the lake (81˚49.5ʹ N; 70˚42.8ʹ W) was found to be 267 m deep. The lake volume was estimated to be 5.14 × 1010 m3, about 10% larger than previous estimates. Using estimates of the discharge of Lake Hazen from the Water Survey of Canada, we estimated the water retention time to be 89 years. Sediment cores were dated using 210Pb and 137Cs. Sedimentation rates at the deep point, estimated using the Constant Rate of Supply model for excess 210Pb, were relatively high (1260 g m-2yr-1) in the period 2005 – 1963 and lower (650 ± 100 g m-2yr-1) in horizons dated to 1950 – 1880. The majority of elements measured in sediment (24 of 29 consistently above detection limits), as well as organic carbon, showed less than 20% variation in concentrations in the top 10 cm (compacted depth), which represent deposition over approximately 140 years. Geochemical characteristics of the sediment suggest that erosional inputs from annual glacial melting are the major source of essentially all elements and that anthropogenic inputs from long-range transport of toxic metals such as mercury and lead are very low.