Iron oxide reactivity controls organic matter mineralization in ferruginous sediments

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André Friese, Kohen Witt Bauer, Clemens Glombitza, Luis Ordóñez, Daniel Ariztegui , Verena B. Heuer, Aurèle Vuillemin, Cynthia Henny, Sulung Nomosatryo, Rachel Simister


Ferruginous sediments were widespread during the Archaean and Proterozoic Eons, but our knowledge about organic matter mineralization remains mostly conceptual, as analogous modern ferruginous sediments are largely unstudied. In sediments of ferruginous Lake Towuti, Indonesia, methanogenesis dominates organic matter mineralization despite abundant reactive ferric iron phases persisting throughout the core. This implies that ferric iron can be buried over geologic timescales even in the presence of labile organic carbon. Iron reactivity and hence its contribution to organic matter mineralization is highly variable. With negligible methane oxidation, methane may diffuse from the sediment into the water column and reach the atmosphere. We hypothesize that similar conditions prevailed during the Archaean and Proterozoic Eons, and thus, may have contributed to regulating Earth’s early climate.



Biogeochemistry, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


early Earth, ferruginous sediment, Iron reduction, Lake Towuti, Methanogenesis


Published: 2020-07-10 03:12

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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