SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1988

Two-Hundred-Year pH History of Woods, Sagamore, and Panther Lakes in the Adirondack Mountains, New York State


Diatom remains in sediment cores from Woods Lake (L) (pH 4.9), Sagamore L (6.0), and Panther L (7.2) in the Adirondack Mountains, N.Y. were studied to infer lake water pH for the past 200 years. Historical studies and analyses of sedimentary 210Pb, Ca, Mg, K, pollen, and charcoal provided data for chronostratigraphy and for distinguishing the effects on inferred pH (IpH) of watershed disturbance versus acid deposition. Indications of watershed logging were found in post-1890 sediment at the three lakes, but the pH responded (increase 0.5–1.0 IpH unit) only in poorly buffered Woods L. Mean IpHs prior to anthropogenic disturbance and acid deposition were 5.1–5.2 (Woods), 6.7–7.0 (Sagamore), and 7.4–7.6 (Panther) compared to IpHs for surface-sediment of 4.8, 6.3, and 6.9, respectively, indicating an acidification but also that edaphically induced pH differences between the lakes have remained about the same. By 1940, the pH of Sagamore and Woods L had started to decrease. Despite watershed disturbances (which would tend to raise lake pH) at Woods L since 1950, the lake has continued to acidify. Acid deposition is the likely cause of acidification of the three lakes. At Panther L, however, the decrease in IpH since the 1960s is unlikely to reflect a decrease in the lake's summer pH due to the well-buffered water, but may indicate intensified depression of lake water pH restricted to periods of snowmelt.

Author Information

Davis, RB
University of Maine, Orono, ME
Anderson, DS
University of Maine, Orono, ME
Charles, DF
U.S. EPA, Corvallis, OR
Galloway, JN
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
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Developed by Committee: E47
Pages: 89–111
DOI: 10.1520/STP34033S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5043-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0978-0