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Sulfur speciation in the upper Black Sea sediments

2010-01-30
Yücel, Mustafa
Konovalov, Sergey K.
Moore, Tommy S.
Janzen, Christopher P.
Luther, George W.
We report solid phase sulfur speciation of six cores from sediments underlying oxic, suboxic and anoxic-sulfidic waters of the Black Sea. Our dataset includes the five sulfur species [pyrite-sulfur, acid volatile sulfides (AVS), zerovalent sulfur (S(0)), organic polysulfides (RS(x)), humic sulfur] together with reactive iron and manganese, as quantified by dithionite extraction, and total organic carbon. Pyrite - sulfur was the major phase in all cores [200-400 mu mol (g dry wt)(-1)] except for the suboxic core. However, zerovalent sulfur and humic sulfur also reached very significant levels: up to about 109 and 80 mu mol (g dry wt)(-1), respectively. Humic sulfur enrichment was observed in the surface fluff layers of the eastern central basin sediments where Unit-1 type depositional conditions prevail. Elemental sulfur accumulated as a result of porewater sulfide oxidation by reactive iron oxides in turbidities from the anoxic basin margin and western central basin sediments. The accumulation of elemental sulfur to a level close to that of pyrite-S in any part of central Black Sea sediments has never been reported before and our finding indicates deep basin turbidites prevent the build-up of dissolved sulfide in the sediment. This process also contributes to diagenetic pyrite formation whereas in the non-turbiditic parts of the deep basin water column formed (syngenetic) pyrite dominates the sulfur inventory. In slope sediments under suboxic waters, organic sulfur (humic sulfur + organic polysulfides) account for 33-42% of total solid phase S, indicating that the suboxic conditions favor organosulfur formation. Our study shows that the interactions between depositional patterns (Unit 1 vs. turbidite), redox state of overlying waters (oxic-suboxic-sulfidic) and organic matter content determine sulfur speciation and enable the accumulation of elemental sulfur and organic sulfur species close to a level of pyrite-S. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.