Sedimentology of a saline playa in the northern Great Plains, Canada

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ABSTRACT

Ceylon Lake, a small salt playa located in southern Saskatchewan, is typical of many shallow ephemeral lacustrine basins found in the northern Great Plains of western Canada. The present-day brine, dominated by magnesium, sodium, and sulphate ions, shows wide variation in composition and concentration on both a temporal and a spatial basis. The modern sediments overall exhibit relatively simple facies relationships. An outer ring of coarse grained shoreline and colluvial clastics surrounds mixed fine grained clastics and salts and, in the centre of the basin, salt pan evaporites composed mainly of mirabilite, thenardite, and bloedite.

Coring of the late Pleistocene and Holocene sedimentary fill shows that the lake has evolved from a relatively dilute, deep water, clastic dominated basin through a shallower, brackish water, carbonate-clastic phase, and finally into the present salt dominated playa. The thick sequence of evaporites preserved in the basin suggests evolution of the brine from a Na-rich solution to a mixed Mg-Na system. The most important post-depositional processes affecting Ceylon Lake sediments are mud diapirism and salt karsting.

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