Silica depletion in Lake Victoria: Sedimentary signals at offshore stations

Dirk Verschuren, David N. Edgington, Hedy J. Kling, Thomas C. Johnson

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29 Scopus citations


Six short sediment cores from offshore stations in Lake Victoria (East Africa) were analyzed for evidence of recent change in the lake s pelagic ecosystem. Three stations were located on a NW-SE transect between 48 m water depth, near the present upper limit of seasonal hypolimnetic oxygen depletion, and the deepest point of Lake Victoria at 68 m. Four stations formed a NE-SW transect across the east-central zone of maximum Holocene sediment accumulation below 64 m water depth. 210Pb dating of two cores from deepwater stations established average recent sediment-accumulation rates of 0.032 ± 0.001 g/cm2/yr and 0.028 ± 0.001 g/cm2/yr. Although the deepest part of the basin has been subject to an event of possibly widespread sediment erosion dated to the mid-1920s, core correlation based on the stratigraphy of biogenic Si above this unconformity indicates that deepwater stations have accumulated representative high-resolution archives of lake history over the past 70 years. The sedimentary record of biogenic-Si accumulation in deepwater cores reflects a sequence of events in which progressive enrichment of Lake Victoria with essential nutrients other than Si first led to increased diatom production, until the combination of excess Si demand and greater burial losses of diatom-Si resulted in depletion of the dissolved-Si reservoir and a transition to Si-limited diatom growth. Available sediment chronologies infer that increased diatom production in offshore areas started between the 1930s and early 1950s, and that the recently documented phytoplankton transition to year-round dominance by cyanobacteria started in the late 1980s. Excess diatom production over the past half century has led to significantly higher burial i losses of biogenic Si only in the depositional center of the basin at water depths below 60 m.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-130
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by NSF-EAR 9421566 and NSF-ATM 9528062. We thank Erik Brown, Tine Lerdahl, Gideon Ngobi, Ben Odhiambo Kisila, Doug Ricketts, Mike Rosenmeier, Immaculate Ssemmanda, and Mike Talbot for assistance during fieldwork on Lake Victoria in 1995 and 1996. The Fisheries Research Institute in Jinja (Uganda) and its director F.W. Bugenyi provided access to the R.Y. Ibis and logistic support. We further thank Yvonne Chan for laboratory analyses, Paul Wilkinson for part of the 210Pb-dating, Erik Brown and Mike Talbot for unpublished CTD data, Dirk Van

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biogenic silica
  • Eutrophication
  • Lake Victoria
  • Paleolimnology
  • Silica depletion

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