Annual sulfur cycle in a warm monomictic lake with sub-millimolar sulfate concentrations Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • We studied the annual variability of the concentration and isotopic composition of main sulfur species and sulfide oxidation intermediates in the water column of monomictic fresh-water Lake Kinneret. Sulfate concentrations in the lake are <1 mM and similar to concentrations that are proposed to have existed in the Paleoproterozoic ocean. The main goal of this research was to explore biogeochemical constrains of sulfur cycling in the modern low-sulfate fresh-water lake and to identify which processes may be responsible for the isotopic composition of sulfur species in the Precambrian sedimentary rocks. At the deepest point of the lake, the sulfate inventory decreases by more than 20% between March and December due to microbial sulfate reduction leading to the buildup of hydrogen sulfide. During the initial stages of stratification, sulfur isotope fractionation between sulfate and hydrogen sulfide is low (11.6 ‰) and sulfur oxyanions (e.g. thiosulfate and sulfite) are the main products of the incomplete oxidation of hydrogen sulfide. During the stratification and at the beginning of the lake mixing (July–December), the inventory of hydrogen sulfide as well as of sulfide oxidation intermediates in the water column increases and is accompanied by an increase in sulfur isotope fractionation to 30 ± 4 ‰ in October. During the period of erosion of the chemocline, zero-valent sulfur prevails over sulfur oxyanions. In the terminal period of the mixing of the water column (January), the concentration of hydrogen sulfide decreases, the inventory of sulfide oxidation intermediates increases, and sulfur isotope fractionation decreases to 20 ± 2 ‰. Sulfide oxidation intermediates are present in the water column of Lake Kinneret at all stages of stratification with significant increase during the mixing of the water column. Hydrogen sulfide inventory in the water column increases from March to December, and sharply decreases during the lake mixis in January. Sulfur isotope fractionation between sulfate and hydrogen sulfide as well as concentrations of sulfide oxidation intermediates can be explained either by microbial sulfate reduction alone or by microbial sulfate reduction combined with microbial disproportionation of sulfide oxidation intermediates. Our study of sulfur cycle in Lake Kinneret may be useful for understanding the range of biogeochemical processes in low sulfate oceans over Earth history.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015