Tags: Mother | Nature's | Tidy | Scientists | Say

Mother Nature's Tidy, Scientists Say

Tuesday, 14 November 2000 12:00 AM

Marianne Douglas of the University of Toronto and John Smol of Queen's University said they examined water and sediment samples from a lake near the Arctic community of Resolute, Nunavut, some 2,100 miles (3,400 km) north of Toronto.

For about five decades, Meretta Lake near Resolute had been used as a sewage dump by the military, which has a base in the area, but no waste had been dumped in the lake since 1998.

Douglas and Smol took samples from the lake to test for phosphorus levels and compared them with data from a study made in the 1970s, when the number of personnel at the base was at its peak. Phosphorus in raw sewage is a nutrient that spurs the growth of algae. The two researchers found that the levels of phosphorus have declined sharply since 1972, which was in keeping with the decreased population at the military base.

They also found that certain species of algae thrived when concentrations of phorphorus in the lake were high. Sediment samples taken from the lake and examined for evidence of different species of algae gave them a "snapshot of the lake's contamination levels at different periods of time." Douglas said the algae or diatoms tracked the increase in nutrient levels accurately and could be used as an effective tool for paleoecological research in the future.

"We are eager to test the method on sites where archaeologists suspect past communities of northern people camped 1,000 years ago," she said. "Diatoms will be important indicators in tracking these past populations."

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

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Marianne Douglas of the University of Toronto and John Smol of Queen's University said they examined water and sediment samples from a lake near the Arctic community of Resolute, Nunavut, some 2,100 miles (3,400 km) north of Toronto. For about five decades, Meretta Lake...
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2000-00-14
Tuesday, 14 November 2000 12:00 AM
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