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A 6,000–year sedimentary molecular record of chemocline excursions in the Black Sea

Nature volume 362, pages 827829 (29 April 1993) | Download Citation

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Abstract

THE Black Sea is the world's largest anoxic basin; it is also a contemporary analogue of the environment in which carbonaceous shales and petroleum source beds formed1. Recently, Repeta et al. 2,3 reported that anoxygenic photosynthesis may be an important component of carbon cycling in the present Black Sea, owing to a shoaling of the chemocline and consequent penetration of the photic zone by anaerobic waters in the past few decades4,5. It has been suggested4 that this was due to an anthropogenic decrease in freshwater input to the Black Sea, although natural causes were not ruled out. Here we report the distributions of sequestered photosynthetic pigments in eight core samples of sediments from the Black Sea ranging in age from zero to 6,200 years before the present. Our results show that photosynthetic green sulphur bacteria (Clorobiaceae) have been active in the Black Sea for substantial periods of time in the past. This finding indicates that the penetration of the photic zone by anaerobic waters is not a recent phenomenon, and suggests that natural causes for shoaling of the chemocline are more likely than anthropogenic ones4.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Netherlands Institute of Sea Research (NIOZ), Division of Marine Biogeochemistry, PO Box 59,1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands

    • Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté
    •  & Jan W. de Leeuw
  2. Organic Geochemistry Unit, Delft University of Technology, de Vries van Heystplantsoen 2, 2628 RZ Delft, The Netherlands

    • Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté
    • , Math E. L. Kohnen
    •  & Jan W. de Leeuw
  3. Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, PO Box 13687, Savannah, Georgia 31416, USA

    • Stuart G. Wakeham
  4. Biogeochemical Laboratories, Departments of Geological Sciences and of Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA

    • J. M. Hayes
  5. Present address: Koninklijke/Shell Exploratie en Produktie Laboratorium, PO Box 60, 2280 AB Riiswijk, The Netherlands.

    • Math E. L. Kohnen

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https://doi.org/10.1038/362827a0

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