Recent evolution of Lake Arreo, northern Spain: Influences of land use change and climate

Juan Pablo Corella, Adel El Amrani, Javier Sigró, Mario Morellón, Eugenio Rico, Blas Lorenzo Valero-Garcés

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35 Scopus citations


We present a high-resolution, multiproxy reconstruction of the depositional history of Lake Arreo, northern Spain, for the last 60 years. We conducted sedimentological, geochemical and diatom analyses in short cores and made a detailed comparison with regional instrumental climate data (1952-2007), limnological monitoring of the lake (1992-2008) and recent land use changes that affect the lake catchment. Chronology is based on "floating" discontinuous varve counts and 137Cs and 14C dates. Four periods were identified in the Lake Arreo recent history: (1) prior to 1963, varved facies intercalated with fine turbidite deposits, and diatom assemblages dominated by Cyclotella taxa indicate predominantly meromictic conditions, (2) from 1964 to 1978, permanent anoxia persisted in bottom waters, as shown by similar facies and diatom assemblages as before, though detrital layers were coarser, (3) from 1979 to 1994, sediment delivery to the lake increased and laminated, clastic facies were deposited, and (4) from 1995 to 2008, dominance of massive facies and an increase in Fragilaria tenera and Achnanthes minutissima reflect relatively lower lake levels, less frequent bottom anoxia with more frequent water column mixing, similar to modern conditions. The period 1952-1979 was a time of meromixis and varved facies deposition, and was characterized by higher rainfall and less intense agricultural pressure in the watershed. There were two short humid periods (1992-1993 and 1996-1998) when monitoring data show more anoxic weeks per year and relatively higher lake levels. Increased cultivation of small landholdings in 1963, and particularly after 1979, caused a large increase in sediment delivery to the lake. The inferred lake evolution is in agreement with monitoring data that suggest a transition from dominantly meromictic conditions prior to 1993-1994 to a predominantly monomictic pattern of circulation since then, particularly after 2000. The synergistic effects of intensive water extraction for irrigation and lower rainfall since 1979, and particularly since 1994, brought the long period of meromictic conditions in Lake Arreo to an end. Water balance and sediment delivery to the lake are dominant factors that control the limnological and mixing conditions in Lake Arreo and they must be considered in management and restoration plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-485
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Financial support for this research was provided by the Spanish Inter-Ministry of Science and Technology (CICYT), through the projects LIMNOCLIBER (REN2003-09130-C02-02), IBERLIMNO (CGL2005-20236-E/CLI), LIMNOCAL (CGL2006-13327-C04-01) CLICAL (CGL2006-13327-C04-03) and GRACCIE (CSD2007-00067). The Basque Country Government provided financial support for some limnological monitoring. Additional funding was provided by the Aragonese Regional Government–Caja Inmaculada, with a travel grant to GFZ (Potsdam). Juan Pablo Corella was supported by a PhD contract paid by the CONAI ? D (Aragonese Scientific Council for Research and Development). We are indebted to GFZ and IPE-CSIC laboratory staff for their collaboration in this research. We also thank the Department of Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, for help with limnological monitoring, especially Alvaro Chicote and Carmen Fernández-Enríquez.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • 20th century
  • Diatoms
  • Global change
  • Lake sediments
  • Land use
  • Northern Iberia

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • ESP


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