Combining sedimentological, trace metal (Mn, Mo) and molecular evidence for reconstructing past water-column redox conditions: The example of meromictic Lake Cadagno (Swiss Alps)

Wirth, Stefanie B.; Gilli, Adrian; Niemann, Helge; Dahl, Tais W.; Ravasi, Damiana; Sax, Nadja; Hamann, Yvonne; Peduzzi, Raffaele; Peduzzi, Sandro; Tonolla, Mauro; Lehmann, Moritz F.; Anselmetti, Flavio (2013). Combining sedimentological, trace metal (Mn, Mo) and molecular evidence for reconstructing past water-column redox conditions: The example of meromictic Lake Cadagno (Swiss Alps). Geochimica et cosmochimica acta, 120, pp. 220-238. Elsevier Science 10.1016/j.gca.2013.06.017

[img] Text
anselmetti_wirth.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (5MB) | Request a copy

Here, we present sedimentological, trace metal, and molecular evidence for tracking bottom water redox-state conditions during the past 12,500 years in nowadays sulfidic and meromictic Lake Cadagno (Switzerland). A 10.5 m long sediment core from the lake covering the Holocene period was investigated for concentration variations of the trace metals Mn and Mo (XRF core scanning and ICP-MS measurements), and for the presence of anoxygenic phototrophic sulfur bacteria (carotenoid pigment analysis and 16S rDNA real time PCR). Our trace metal analysis documents an oxic-intermediate-sulfidic redox-transition period beginning shortly after the lake formation similar to 12.5 kyr ago. The oxic period is characterized by low sedimentary Mn and Mo concentrations, as well as by the absence of any remnants of anoxygenic phototrophic sulfur bacteria. Enhanced accumulation/preservation of Mn (up to 5.6 wt%) in the sediments indicates an intermediate, Mn-enriched oxygenation state with fluctuating redox conditions during a similar to 2300-year long transition interval between similar to 12.1 and 9.8 kyr BP. We propose that the high Mn concentrations are the result of enhanced Mn2+ leaching from the sediments during reducing conditions and subsequent rapid precipitation of Mn-(oxyhydr) oxide minerals during episodic and short-term water-column mixing events mainly due to flood-induced underflows. At 9800 +/- 130 cal yr BP, a rapid transition to fully sulfidic conditions is indicated by the marked enrichment of Mo in the sediments (up to 490 ppm), accompanied by an abrupt drop in Mn concentrations and the increase of molecular biomarkers that indicate the presence of anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria in the water column. Persistently high Mo concentrations >80 ppm provide evidence that sulfidic conditions prevailed thereafter until modern times, without any lasting hypolimnetic ventilation and reoxygenation. Hence, Lake Cadagno with its persistently stable chemocline offers a framework to study in great temporal detail over similar to 12 kyr the development of phototrophic sulfur bacteria communities and redox processes in a sulfidic environment, possibly depicting analogous conditions in an ancient ocean. Our study underscores the value of combining sedimentological, geochemical, and microbiological approaches to characterize paleo-environmental and -redox conditions in lacustrine and marine settings.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Quaternary Geology

UniBE Contributor:

Anselmetti, Flavio


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




Elsevier Science




Flavio Anselmetti

Date Deposited:

18 Jun 2014 11:26

Last Modified:

10 Sep 2015 09:03

Publisher DOI:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback