Paleolimnology is the study of the physical, chemical, and biological information preserved in freshwater deposits, primarily from lakes. Such important proxy indicators of past environmental change can be used to reconstruct the history of a particular lake and/or can provide valuable information on broader ecological and environmental scales (e.g. climate, landscape changes). A sedimentary core is retrieved from the lake (click on "Retrieving a core" slideshow for more details) providing a continuous archive of biological fossils, geological and chemical markers that have been accumulating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year, for thousands of years. By carefully extruding the core into discrete intervals (Click on "Sectioning a core" slide show for more details) these paleolimnological indicators can be used to quantitatively and qualitatively infer environmental conditions at the time the sediments were deposited.
In our Lake of the Woods research, we focus on the biological information preserved in the sediments to provide us with clues to historical (last ~300± years) and longer-term (~10,000± years) water quality, environmental, and climatic changes.
This is only a glimpse at the exciting and rapidly advancing field of paleolimnology! To learn more about paleolimnology, click on our slideshow “Intro to Paleolimnology”.
Smol J.P. 2008. Pollution of Lakes and Rivers: a paleoenvironmental perspective, 2nd edition (Oxford University Press, New York).
Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research: Springer book series. http://post.queensu.ca/~smolj/jopl/monotitles.html
Journal of Paleolimnology http://www.springer.com/geosciences/journal/10933