Lakes pp 295-323 | Cite as

Freshwater Carbonate Sedimentation

  • K. Kelts
  • K. J. Hsü


Carbonate minerals are a common constituent of lacustrine sediments. The great variability with respect to geological setting, climatic environment, water chemistry, and biological activity limits generalizations about mechanisms of carbonate sedimentation. On the whole, in constrast to an oceanic environment, the bulk of primary lacustrine carbonates are inorganic chemical precipitates. Two distinctly different geological settings can be recognized: (1) carbonate and evaporite deposition in brine lakes or on playas in arid regions (see Chap. 8, this volume), and (2) carbonate sedimentation in fresh- and brackish-water lakes in humid regions. Occurrences of lacustrine chalks and marls in young geological formations of temperate regions have been described since the time of Lyell (1830). In northern America and Europe, Late Quaternary chalks were found near still existing lakes and their genesis was related to a postglacial period of climatic amelioration (e.g., Heim, 1919). Typically, these deposits are fine grained, either rhythmically laminated or massive, white to dull-yellowish gray chalks to marls. This distinction is qualitative based on a bulk carbonate content boundary around 60%. The dominant mineral is calcite. Similar varve-like carbonate or marl sediments were found in older lacustrine deposits (e.g., Bradley, 1929). Nipkow (1920) described recent analogies to laminated lacustrine carbonates in Lake Zurich; the light laminae are rich in CaCO3. Forel (1901) early recognized a biological role, but Minder (1922, 1926) developed the concept of inorganic, biogenically induced calcite precipitation. Meanwhile lacustrine marls in regions of Quaternary glaciation around the Great Lakes in North America were studied (e.g., Davis, 1901; Pollock, 1918). Calcite precipitation in those biologically active hardwater lakes (e.g., Halbfass, 1923; Ruttner, 1962; Pia, 1933; Ohle, 1952; Hutchinson, 1957; Wetzel, 1975) was soon related to extraction of Co2 during photosynthesis by algae.


Green Lake Calcite Crystal Calcium Carbonate Precipitation Calcite Precipitation Diatom Frustule 
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  • K. Kelts
  • K. J. Hsü

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