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Speciation and isotopic composition of sulfur in sediments from Jellyfish Lake, Palau

January 1, 1993

Jellyfish Lake, Palau, is a meromictic marine lake with high organic productivity, low reactive Fe content, and anoxic bottom waters. Sediment samples from Jellyfish Lake were examined for the distribution of sulfur species and their isotopic signatures in order to gain a better understanding of sedimentary sulfur incorporation in Fe-poor environments. Surface samples were taken along a transect from a near-shore site to the center of the lake, and include a sample below oxic water, a sample below the chemocline layer, and samples below anoxic waters. Three additional samples were taken from a core, 2 m long, collected near the lake center. Sulfur to organic carbon weight ratios in all samples were lower than the expected value of 0.36 for normal marine sediment, probably because the lake water is deficient in reactive Fe to form iron sulfides. Total sulfur contents in the surface sediments indicated no changes with distance from shore; however, the sulfur content of the surface sample at the chemocline layer may be slightly higher. Total sulfur content increased with depth in the core and is inversely related to organic carbon content. Organic sulfur is the major sulfur species in the samples, followed in descending order by sulfate, disulfides and monosulfides. Sulfate sulfur isotope ??34S-values are positive (from +20.56 to +12.04???), reflecting the marine source of sulfate in Jellyfish Lake. Disulfide and monosulfide ??34S-values are negative (from -25.07 to -7.60???), because of fractionation during bacterial reduction of sulfate. Monosulfide ??34S-values are somewhat higher than those of disulfides, and they are close to the ??34S-values of organic sulfur. These results indicate that most of the organic sulfur is formed by reaction of bacteriogenic monosulfides, or possibly monosulfide-derived polysulfides, with organic matter in the sediment. ?? 1993.