Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

A hydroclimate-proxy model based on sedimentary facies in an annually laminated sequence from Lake Ohau, South Island, New Zealand

  • Heidi A. Roop
  • Richard Levy
  • Gavin B. Dunbar
  • Marcus J. Vandergoes
  • Jamie Howarth
  • Sean Fitzsimons
  • Heung Soo Moon
  • Christian Zammit
  • Robert Ditchburn
  • Troy Baisden
  • Ho Il Yoon
Original paper


Annually laminated sediments collected from Lake Ohau, New Zealand offer an opportunity to generate a high-resolution paleoclimate record for the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes. Correlation between regional precipitation and synoptic climate indices like the Southern Annular Mode, paired with a correlation between Ohau catchment precipitation, lake inflow and suspended sediment yield suggest that the Lake Ohau varves are a potentially powerful tool for estimating the amplitude, timing and interdependence of different climate modes operating in the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes over time. A robust chronology and sound climate-proxy model are fundamental requirements for all high-resolution paleoenvironmental records. Here we present a chronology derived from layer counts, and 137Cs and 210Pb ages for the top 60 cm of sediments from the distal basin of Lake Ohau that confirm the varved natured of the sedimentary sequence. Sedimentary facies of different varve motifs are used to develop a hydroclimate-proxy model which links stratigraphy to seasonal hydrology. To establish this relationship we use a model accuracy statistic, which shows a quantitative difference between the annual hydrographs associated with each of three primary varve motifs. Distribution of above average inflow events points to summer and autumn hydrologic regimes as the primary control on the deposition of different motifs. This relationship between varve characteristics and hydrology will serve as a tool to reconstruct lake inflow, and by extension precipitation, on an annual basis throughout the late-Holocene for the South Island of New Zealand.


Varves Southern Hemisphere Hydroclimate Stratigraphy Complexity 



Financial support was provided through the GNS Science Global Change through Time Program, Sarah Beanland Memorial Scholarship, ANZICE Program (VICX0704), Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund (GNS1302), and KOPRI Project #PP15010. Thanks to Brian Anderson, Lionel Carter, Andrew Lorrey, Christian Ohlendorf and Peter Neff for numerous scientific discussions and ongoing interest in the Lake Ohau Project. We would like to thank the staff at Meridian Energy Ltd. and the University of Otago Marine Sciences Department for logistical support and two anonymous reviewers whose feedback greatly improved the manuscript. Sincere thanks to Chris and Rae Spiers for their hospitality and large workspace at the Killin Barn, and the Inkersell family at Lake Ohau Station for land access and continuing project support.

Supplementary material

10933_2015_9853_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3 mb)
Example of the relationship between particle size and the less dense (light) and more dense (dark) portions of the X-ray positives. The light layers are consistently associated with coarser particles (modal size >8 μm), while the darker layers are associated with finer particles (modal size 3.7 μm). The range of particle size fractions is similar to those measured in cores and sediment traps by Roop et al. (2014) (PDF 3064 kb)
10933_2015_9853_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (54 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 53 kb)
10933_2015_9853_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (583 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 582 kb)


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Copyright information

© Crown Copyright  2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi A. Roop
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard Levy
    • 1
  • Gavin B. Dunbar
    • 2
  • Marcus J. Vandergoes
    • 1
  • Jamie Howarth
    • 1
  • Sean Fitzsimons
    • 3
  • Heung Soo Moon
    • 4
  • Christian Zammit
    • 5
  • Robert Ditchburn
    • 1
  • Troy Baisden
    • 1
  • Ho Il Yoon
    • 4
  1. 1.GNS ScienceLower HuttNew Zealand
  2. 2.Antarctic Research CentreVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  4. 4.Korea Polar Research InstituteIncheonKorea
  5. 5.National Institute of Water and AtmosphereRiccarton, ChristchurchNew Zealand

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