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Deuerling -

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Applied Ceochemistry



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Mirror Lake, one of the scenic locations on The Ohio State University's campus, experiences an intense bioturbation event as part of an annual tradition revolving around the rivalry football game against the University of Michigan. This tradition involves thousands of students jumping into the lake over one night in the week leading up to the football game.

Water samples were collected from several locations in the lake before, during, and after the Mirror Lake Jump to determine the impact of this event on lake water chemistry. There were significant and systematic increases in the concentrations of Na+, K+, Cl−, total nitrogen, ammonia, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) associated with the jump, especially in the eastern side of the lake where most of the students entered. Over the 3-h period from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the eastern side of the lake, Na+, K+, and Cl− concentrations increased by about 2–4 ppm, 1.5–3 ppm, and 4–6 ppm, respectively. The total nitrogen concentration increased about five to six fold, from 450–500 ppb to 2300–2800 ppb over the height of the event on the eastern side of the lake. Similar increases were observed for DOC, increasing from 3.6 to 18 ppm. This DOC increase was coincident with a 5‰ shift in δ13C, from a mean of around −28‰ in the early hours of the evening to a maximum of −23‰, implying a large influx of isotopically heavy carbon into the lake. Ammonia concentrations varied substantially from year to year, but always showed a systematic increase in concentration during the event. Smaller changes in major ion and nutrient concentrations were observed in the middle and western side of the lake, where fewer students entered the lake.

The changes in concentration and the timing and spatial distribution of these changes are primarily attributed to anthropogenic input from jumpers in the form of bodily fluids (e.g., evaporated sweat, sebum and urine). Over a single night, these anthropogenic event inputs represent roughly 10% of the annual nitrogen budget of the lake, emphasizing the direct impact humans can have on urban water bodies on short time scales.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in Applied Geochemistry on [June 13, 2017], available online:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.