Science on Seneca (SOS)

Acid Rain and the Finger Lakes

Scientists have hypothesized that the calcareous terrain of the Finger Lakes region of Central New York buffers the effects of acid rain on the lakes. To examine this hypothesis scientists from Syracuse University undertook a study looking at historic sediments as well as surface water from the Finger Lakes to determine the amount of calcite concentrations. They found that 7 of the 11 Finger Lakes surrounded by calcareous soils and limestone outcrops had increased levels of calcite in the surface waters and in the sediments. They concluded that over time acid rain had contributed to the “chemical weathering” of the limestone bedrock and soils in the Finger Lakes. The scientists found that the weathering process resulted in the release of calcium and bicarbonate into nearby waterways resulting in an “alkalization” of the lakes they studied.

Historic calcite record from the Finger Lakes, New York: Impact of acid rain on a buffered terrane C.K. Lajewski, H.T. Mullins, Department of Earth Sciences, Heroy Geology Laboratory, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA, et al. Pages 373-384.


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