Original paper

Changes in diatom assemblages in an Andean lake in response to a recent volcanic event

Cruces, F. Urrutia

Abstract

Galletué Lake (38° 41′ S; 71° 17′ W, IX Region-Chile) is located in an area that is highly influenced by eruptive activity of the Lonquimay and Llaima volcanoes. As a consequence, during the last century tephra was deposited into the lake. Sedimentary diatom assemblages were reconstructed in order to establish the tephra effect on their composition and productivity. This was done by taking a sediment core from Galletué Lake at 40 m depth and sectioning it in 1cm intervals. The core age was obtained with 210Pb and 137Cs activities and the mineral composition of the tephra was determined with mineralogical analyses. Furthermore, sedimentological analyses were performed and total organic matter was determined in the profile. The diatom assemblages were analysed using light and electronic microscopy. The results showed that the diatom stratigraphy can be separated in three zones recognizing the periods before and after tephra input. Aulacoseira granulata decreased during the tephra influx and was replaced by Cyclotella aff. glomerata. When the tephra disappeared from the sedimentary record, A. granulata returned to pre-volcanic event levels. At the same time, Cyclotella aff. glomerata decreased within the assemblages. Asterionella formosa and Urosolenia eriensis increased after the tephra input, with values surpassing earlier ones. These results indicate that, after the tephra input, the lake recovered its previous nutrient levels, which agrees with the organic matter content in the sedimentary matrix. Finally, the results reveal that the volcanic disturbance changed the structure and productivity of diatom assemblages in Galletué Lake.

Keywords

diatomstephrasedimentspecies compositionandean lake