Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

A paleolimnological comparison of Burntside and Shagawa Lakes, northeastern Minnesota

December 31, 1978

The paleolimnological records of Burntside and Shagawa Lakes in northeastern Minnesota reveal that these two adjacent lakes have been limnologically distinct for many years prior to the late 19th century activities of white men that polluted Shagawa Lake. Although both lakes occur within the same vegetation type and share much of their water, the diatom stratigraphy of their bottom sediments indicates that Burntside Lake was less productive in its natural state than Shagawa Lake. The causes for this natural difference are not clearly known, but differences in relative size of drainage area and in bedrock geology may he responsible.

Intensive white settlement around Shagawa Lake beginning in 1866 supplied nutrients that increased its productivity and finally supported the massive blooms of blue-green algae that characterize culturally eutrophic lakes. Burntside Lake was spared such intensive eutrophication, but its diatom record shows that nutrients derived from shoreside recreational cabins and related construction activity are increasing the lake's productivity.

The results of this study show that paleolimnological studies may provide better comparative information for lake rehabilitation programs than do biological and chemical analyses of contemporary unpolluted water bodies.

Publication Year 1978
Title A paleolimnological comparison of Burntside and Shagawa Lakes, northeastern Minnesota
Authors J. Platt Bradbury, Jean C.B. Waddington
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Ecological Research Series
Series Number EPA-600/3-78-004
Index ID 70188833
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse