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May 04, 2008

Lac Violet

I was staring out the window of the plane as it banked into Whitehorse on Friday, when I noticed an unusual pothole lake (commonly known as "kettle lakes"). The lake was unusual because of it's colour. While most of Whitehorse's pothole lakes have a brown or blue-green tint, this lake was distinctly pink. I took note of which lake it was and got the coordinates off of Google Earth when I got home.

This morning, Fawn, Jade, Nanuq and I went for a walk to learn more about the oddly-coloured lake.

Jade doesn't fit in the pack as easily as she did in the past.

The wind was cold but the walking was fairly easy. We stuck mostly to south-facing slopes so I wouldn't have to worry about branches poking Jade's eyes out with branches as she rode in the backpack behind me.

Finding the least-obstructed routes.

The coordinates led us to a tiny pothole lake where we had lunch. I double-checked the coordinates because the lake was both too small and not pink enough. Had my eyes been playing tricks on me?

Stopping for a snack.

Nanuq keeps his ears tuned for danger.

Enjoying a snack at a tiny pothole lake.

I had entered the coordinates wrong, combining two sets that I had printed off before the trip. I entered the correct coordinates and were on our way to the pink lake, which was only half-a-kilometer away.

Jade walks on her own for a bit.

When we got there, we could see that the lake was definitely pink. Or purple. The colour changed depending on how the light struck the water and the ice.

A light pink tint.

Multi-coloured ice.

I noticed some porous rocks on the shoreline and began to wonder if the lakes weren't being fed by a spring. The air had a distinctive sulphurish, briney smell about it that the other pothole lakes didn't have.

Porous rocks.

A little "rock garden".

On the other side of the lake, the colouration was much more apparent.

Purple water?  Eww.

What is making this water purplish?  Zooplankton? Dye? Toxic waste?

Not something I'd want to drink.  Judging by the moose tracks that approach the shoreline but don't seem to reach the water, it's not something they'd like to drink either.

A lake full of purple.

Deep purple.

Fawn gets stuck in the mud and is glad she wore her rubber boots.

It almost looks like some sort of weird sunset...

I've send the link for this entry to Environment Yukon.  Maybe they'll be able to tell us something about Whitehorse's mysterious pink/purple lake...

3 comments:

Marianne said...

Very interesting. I'm looking forward to hearing what you find out from Environment Yukon.

Geof Harries said...

I'm intrigued as well. Keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

Not my forte, but I've heard of this before, I think parts of Salt Lake have a similar phenomenon. More here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_sulfur_bacteria


Cheers,

Chris