High-resolution seismic reflection profiles, side-scan sonar profiles, and surface sediment analyses for grain size (% sand, silt & clay), total organic carbon content, and carbonate content along shore-perpendicular transects offshore of Olcott and Rochester in Lake Ontario were utilized to investigate cm-thick sands or absence of deepwater postglacial sediments in water depths of 130 to 165 m. These deepwater sands were observed as each transect approached and occupied the “sills,” identified by earlier researchers, between the three deepest basins of the lake. The results reveal thin (0 to 5-cm) postglacial sediments, lake floor lineations, and sand-rich, organic, and carbonate poor sediments at the deepwater sites (> 130 m) along both transects at depths significantly below wave base, epilimnetic currents, and internal wave activity. These sediments are anomalous compared to shallower sediments observed in this study and deeper sediments reported by earlier research, and are interpreted to indicate winnowing and resuspension of the postglacial muds. We hypothesize that the mid-lake confluence of the two-gyre surface current system set up by strong storm events extends down to the lake floor when the lake is isothermal, and resuspends and winnows lake floor sediment at these locations. Furthermore, we believe that sedimentation is more likely to be influenced by bottom currents at these at these sites than in the deeper basins because these sites are located on bathymetric highs between deeper depositional basins of the lake, and the bathymetric constriction may intensify any bottom current activity at these sites.
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Vol. 32 • No. 2