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International Journal of Salt Lake Research

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 47–76 | Cite as

Chemical composition of saline and subsaline lakes of the northern Great Plains, western Canada

  • William M. Last
Article

Abstract

The northern Great Plains of Canada stretch from the Precambrian Shield near Winnipeg, Manitoba, westward for ∼1,700 km to the Rocky Mountains foothills. This vast region of flat to gently rolling terrain contains a very large number of salt lakes. Major ion chemical data on ∼500 of them are available. Although the average brine (salinity, 37 ppt) is a Na+−SO4 2− type of water, the lakes exhibit a wide range of salinities and ionic compositions. This diversity is confirmed by Q-mode cluster analysis; it identified thirteen major water chemistry types. Most ions display distinct trends, both spatially and with increasing salinity. All dissolved components increase with increasing salinity, but at different rates. The relative proportions of Ca2+ and HCO3 +CO3 2− ions show a strong decrease with increasing brine salinity, whereas SO4 2− ions increase with increasing salinity. The ionic proportions of Na+, Mg2+, K+ and Cl exhibit no significant relationship with salinity. R-mode factor analysis of the lake water chemistry, combined with selected environmental parameters, identifies groundwater composition, climate, and the elevation of the lake within the drainage system as most important in controlling brine chemistry and salinity on a regional basis. Variability in source of ions, reaction processes and products are undoubtedly key factors in helping to explain brine chemistry of an individual basin or variation from a local perspective, but these factors are generally poorly understood and not quantified on a regional basis.

Key Words

Canada chemical composition saline Great Plains lakes 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • William M. Last
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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