In a small meromictic lake near Toronto, Canada, a mass mortality of photosynthetic bacteria followed the ventilation of the chemocline during fall (autumn) and resulted in 3–8 g m-2 day-1 of organic matter being deposited as a dark layer in sediment traps which were suspended in the permanently anaerobic zone. This mass mortality of photosynthetic bacteria occurred in late autumn following the annual thermal destratification of the lake's mixolimnion. Wind mixing during this period of homeothermy resulted in the introduction of low levels of dissolved oxygen into the lake's chemocline. The ensuing mass mortality of photosynthetic bacteria resulted in the release of elemental sulphur as the sulphur-rich bacteria decomposed and sank to the bottom of the lake. The ferrous ions in the water below a depth of 15 m in Crawford Lake reacted with this sulphur to form black ferrous sulphides and pyrite which formed a dark microlamina on the lake floor. Each dark microlamina was overlain by a light coloured (calcite-rich) layer which was deposited each spring and summer during the 3 yr period of this study.

The mechanism of microlamina formation elucidated here has been based on the examination of bi-weekly sediment trap information. This approach has permitted an explanation of the mechanisms by which specific events such as calcite precipitation and phytoplankton seasonal succession are transcribed into the sediment record.