Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 447–467 | Cite as

Sub-bottom profiling and coring of sub-basins along the lower French River, Ontario: insights into depositional environments within the North Bay outlet

Original paper


Sub-bottom profiling was conducted at eight sub-basins within the lower French River area, Ontario, to investigate deposits preserved within the ancient North Bay outlet. Ten cores were collected that targeted the four depositional acoustic facies identified in the sub-bottom profiling records. The rhythmically laminated/bedded glaciolacustrine deposits of facies I are interpreted to have aggraded within glacial Lake Algonquin and its associated recessional lakes that persisted between 13,000 and 11,300 cal BP (~11,100 and 9,900 BP). The majority of the facies II, III and IV lacustrine deposits accumulated between about 9,500 cal BP (~8,500 BP) and the mid-Holocene, based on radiocarbon-dated organic materials. These deposits represent sedimentation within a ‘large’ lake during the late portion of the Mattawa-Stanley phase, and the Nipissing transgression, Nipissing Great Lakes and post-Nipissing recession phases of lake levels. Two sets of organic-rich sand beds are preserved within facies II deposits and reveal that the large lake lacustrine depositional environment was interrupted during the late Mattawa-Stanley phase between 9,500–9,300 and 9,000–8,400 cal BP (~8,500–8,300 and ~8,000–7,600 BP), when the water surface of Lake Hough fell below the outlet threshold and the lake basin became hydrologically closed. Pre-9,500 cal BP (~8,500 BP), the early and middle portions of the Mattawa-Stanley phase were dominated by erosion, as reflected by an unconformity at the base of facies II that occurs widely in the sub-basins and the general lack of preserved deposits for these intervals in the cores. This erosion is attributed to wave action and fluvial scouring within the outlet mouth during the early and mid-Stanley-Hough low stages and relates specifically to the period when the flowing portion of the North Bay outlet was situated over the lower French River area. This study reveals that the majority of the post-glacial deposits accumulated after the outlet threshold had shifted permanently eastwards and the lower French River area was inundated under the multiple phases of the large lake occupying the Nipissing Lowlands and Georgian-Huron basins, extending well into the mid-Holocene. The occurrence of deposits marking two closed-basin intervals during the late Stanley-Hough stage are well preserved locally within the lacustrine depositional sequence, but identifying earlier closed-basin intervals from the French River stratigraphy is hindered by the lack of preserved pre-9,500 cal BP (~8,500 BP) post-glacial deposits.


Lake Huron French River North Bay outlet Holocene Lacustrine sedimentation Lake hydrology 



The research is part of a Natural Resources Canada project that is investigating the evolution and controls of lake level fluctuation in the Great Lakes basins, as part of the Enhancing Resilience in a Changing Climate Program, Earth Sciences Sector. Comments on earlier drafts of the paper by Rod Klassen, Mike Lewis and two anonymous journal reviewers are appreciated. We thank the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for permission to work in French River Provincial Park (FRPP). Ed Chevrette (FRPP) provided advice on winter ice conditions in the area and escort to the winter coring sites. Marten Douma (GSC) provided patient instruction and support with Knudsen acoustic profiler and GPS equipment as well as differential processing of the GPS data. Numerous residents of the French River area provided insights into the river system and the history of the area, including, Art and Brenda Bearfoot, Robert and Toni Desrocher, Leonard Dokis, Lily-Anne Benson and Rob Giles, Mike and James Palmer. This paper represents ESS contribution number 20080597.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Survey of CanadaNatural Resources CanadaOttawaCanada

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