Sedimentation in a deep glacier-fed lake—Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

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Abstract

ABSTRACT Surface sediments, cores and seismic reflection profiling delineate sedimentary environments and processes of sedimentation in Lake Tekapo. Sedimentation is dominated by the Godley River which forms an extensive delta in the northern third of the lake. Delta growth accounts for 55% of annual sediment deposition. In winter sandy muds are deposited at the top of the delta slope, where they may move under gravity as a surficial slide. Oversteepening of the upper slope also generates deep seated failures. The entire 20 km2 of delta slope is subjected to rotational slumping which episodically reworks large volumes of sediment. Down the delta slope sedimentation rates decrease, surface sediments get finer and varves become better developed.

In the lake basin sediments are parallel bedded varves, which contain typical winter-summer annual cycles as well as minor, non-annual flood varves. Annual varve thickness and semi-annual varve frequency are determined by variations in the discharge of the Godley River. Sedimentation in the basin accounts for 40% of the budget and sedimentation rates decrease with distance from the delta, except at the distal end of the basin, where turbid underflows are stopped by the rising lake floor. Beyond the basin, sedimentation rates decrease abruptly. Coriolis deflection of inflowing river water increases sedimentation rates down the eastern shore. The remaining 5% of the sediment is deposited on the lateral slopes and shoulders where sediments form a thin muddy veneer over basement, which occasionally slumps to the basin floor.

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