Lake to give up its hidden secrets

The true depth and origins of Diss Mere could finally be uncovered with the help of a new survey.A team from the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London will visit the natural lake next month in the hope of producing a computer-generated, three-dimensional model of the water depth.

The true depth and origins of Diss Mere could finally be uncovered with the help of a new survey.

A team from the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London will visit the natural lake next month in the hope of producing a computer-generated, three-dimensional model of the water depth.

Over the years investigations have been carried out to discover more about the six-acre Mere's history using sediment samples.

After surveys in 1980 it was said to be the second deepest natural lake in Britain, with about 20ft of water and more than double that of mud.


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But the origin and age of the town's best known landmark has been the subject of considerable speculation, with some saying there is evidence of a channel across its bed, possibly the source of an ancient stream.

It is also thought that the Mere was the result of the Ice Age and the rock structure of the area, created when underlying chalk bedrock collapsed under the weight of the ice, forming a 60ft deep hollow which then collected water.

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It was once used as a reservoir and a town drain, but is now popular for fishing and waterfowl.

Using a boat, global satellite positioning equipment and probes to reach the sediment surface, the study team of about four will map out the Mere. The information will be fed into a computer and a model produced.

Ian Bailey, who is leading the survey, said the work was part of on going research into climate change but could also give clues on the lake's formation.

Mr Bailey has studied sediment samples cored from the Mere for the last three years and the 3-D map would help pinpoint the deepest point of the water and where the deepest sections of sediment might be to take better samples.

It may then be possible to work out the deepest part of the lake before it started to fill up with material and how that was affected by the climate.

Mr Bailey thought the Mere was possibly much deeper and older than previously thought.

"We have our own theories about how the lake formed, one of the ways we are hoping to test them is to look at the lie of the land," he said. "There are still lots of questions to be answered about the lake. It looks like it's going to reveal some important information."

He added that East Anglia was unique in that it had some "long lived" lakes - ancient natural lakes - that hold important information in their sediment about climate change over hundreds or thousands of years.

"Diss Mere is an interesting lake out of all the lakes in East Anglia. That's why I am working on it, because I find it the most fascinating," he said.

Diss Town Council has given its backing to the study and will be getting a copy of the completed survey.

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