Patterns and impacts of inorganic tripton in Cayuga Lake

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Inorganic tripton in the upper waters of Cayuga Lake, NY, is characterized, quantified and contrasted for shallow ( < 6 m) and deep (> 100 m) water regions based on analyses with scanning electron microscopy equipped with automated image analysis and X-ray energy spectroscopy (SAX) of samples collected in 1999 and 2000. The impacts of this material on water clarity and the phosphorus (P) pool are evaluated based on paired measurements of turbidity (Tn), Secchi disc transparency (SD), chlorophyll, and four fractions of particulate P (PP) determined according to selective extraction protocols. The major components of inorganic tripton in the lake are reported to be clay minerals and quartz, received from the watershed, and calcium carbonate (CaCO3), that is produced internally. Clay minerals are the dominant component in a shallow region that receives tributary inflows. CaCO3, precipitated during a mid-summer whiting event, is reported to be the dominant component of inorganic tripton for the deep water region for a low runoff year, while clays can become dominant in these areas after prolonged intervals of high runoff. It is demonstrated that inorganic tripton, rather than phytoplankton, is the primary regulator of Tn and SD, it represents most of the PP, and is primarily responsible for the higher Tn, lower SD, and higher TP in the shallow area compared to the deep water region. Efforts to improve clarity in this shallow region of the lake should consider the feasibility of controlling the input of terrigenous suspensoids rather than reductions in P loading.

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