Crampton Lake - CRAM

Site Type

Core Aquatic


Wisconsin, D05, Great Lakes

Site Host

University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center

Map Legend
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Aquatic Site Marker

This map depicts the spatial layout of this field site. Please note that some locations may have moved over time due to logistics, safety and science requirements. This map was updated on July 11, 2018

Construction Status for this Site

Civil Construction Sensor Installation Field Sampling Data Status
Partially Available


The core aquatic site in Domain 05 is Crampton Lake, located on property of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Station (UNDERC), which serves as NEON’s core terrestrial site in the Great Lakes Domain. Most of Crampton Lake is in Vilas County, Wisconsin, but a small portion of the northern shore of the lake is across the border, in Gogebic County, Michigan. UNDERC is approximately 7500 acres of mixed and hardwood forests as well as open water and wetlands. UNDERC in general and Crampton specifically both have a legacy of research dating back nearly 40 years.

Surface area, elevation & depth

Crampton Lake is approximately 26 hectares surface area. The max depth is about 17.5 meters and average depth around 5 m. Structurally, there are two significant bays and one island. There are two deep holes which account for the max depth while much of the bottom is 1-10 m deep. Crampton Lake is at approximately 591 m altitude.

Hydrology and Geology

Crampton Lake is a seepage lake, with no significant surface water inlet or outlet. It is primarily rain-fed, with some contribution from groundwater. There is a small, slowly flowing inlet from a bog on the northeast edge.

Crampton is generally completely ice covered from about late November until late March. It stratifies annually a few weeks after ice off. The mean depth of the metalimnion is roughly 4 to 9 meters. The lake destratifies in early November. Average secchi depth is around 4.5 meters.

The substrate is mostly organic muck, silt, and sand. There are areas where gravel is also common. Crampton has a more complicated topography than the typical kettle lake in the region, but was also carved by retreating glaciers of the Laurentide Ice Sheet about 18,000 years ago.


The near-shore emergent aquatic vegetation is dominated by pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), which covers much of the shore. At slightly deeper depths (up to approximately 4 m) bur-reed grass (Sparganium angustifolium) dominates at the surface. Other emergent and floating-leafed plants include pond lilies (Nymphaea odorata and Nuphar sp.) and several pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.). Three-way sedge (Dulichium arundinaceum), a mostly terrestrial species, also occurs in the lake. Submerged vegetation includes two species of quillwort (Isoetes lacustris and I. tenella), pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), dwarf watermilfoil (Myriophyllum tenellum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and at least one species of macro-algae (Nitella sp.).

Fish species include largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas), bluntnose minnow (Pimephales sp.), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), and johnny darter (Etheostoma nigrum).


Crampton Lake is a clear water, oligotrophic lake. The dissolved oxygen near the surface is very high, generally above 95%. Conductivity near the surface is between 13 and 15 microsiemens per cm. Water temperature in mid-summer is roughly 24 degrees Celsius. After destratification, water temperature is around 6 degrees Celsius throughout.

The waters of Crampton are neutral, with a pH of about 6.5. It has extremely low ionic strength and is sensitive to slight changes of acidity. The alkalinity and ANC (acid neutralizing capacity) tend to be between 0.15 and -0.05 meq/L or between 6 and -3 mg/L CaCO3.

Nearby Land Use and Vegetation

For general area land use and vegetation characteristics, see UNDERC field site specific description.

Crampton Lake’s immediate shore is dominated by eastern hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis), white cedar (Picea glauca), and red maple (Acer rubrum). Also present are red pine (Pinus resinosa) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea).

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