Lake Untersee is the largest freshwater lake in the interior of East Antarctica. It is a perennially ice-covered, max. 169 m deep, ultra-oligotrophic lake. In contrast to earlier studies, we found clear evidence for physical and chemical stratification in the summer of 1991–92. However, the stratification was restricted to a trough, c. 500 m wide and up to 105 m deep, in the south-western part of the lake. There, the water body was distinctly stratified as indicated by sharp vertical gradients of temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and electrical conductivity. The water column was anoxic below 80 m. The chemical stratification is also indicated by changes of ionic ratios. Moreover, there was some evidence for methanogenesis and bacterial sulphate reduction in Lake Untersee.
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