The history of subaquatic volcanism recorded in the sediments of Lake Kivu

Ross, Kelly-Ann; Schmid, Martin; Ogorka, S.; Muvundja, F. A.; Anselmetti, Flavio (2015). The history of subaquatic volcanism recorded in the sediments of Lake Kivu. Journal of Paleolimnology, 54(1), pp. 137-152. Kluwer Academic 10.1007/s10933-015-9842-6

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Subaquatic volcanic activity has been ongoing in Lake Kivu since the early Holocene and has a dynamic effect on the biological productivity in the surface water, and the preservation of carbonate in the deep anoxic water. Groundwater discharge into the lake’s deepwater propels the upward advection of the water column that ultimately supplies nutrients to the surface water for biological production. The amount of nutrients supplied from the deepwater can be increased suddenly by (1) a cold meteorological event that drives deep seasonal mixing resulting in increased nutrients from below and oxygen from above, or (2) subaquatic volcanic activity that induces a buoyant hydrothermal plume, which entrains nutrients from the deepwater and results in anoxia or suboxic conditions in the surface water. Previous sedimentological studies in Lake Kivu have hypothesized that regional climatic changes are responsible for sudden changes in the preservation of carbonates in the Main Basin. Here we reveal that sublacustrine volcanic events most likely induce the abrupt changes to the geochemistry in the sediment in Lake Kivu. An unprecedented look into the sediment stratigraphy and geochemistry from high-resolution seismic-reflection, and 15N-isotope analyses was conducted in the Main Basin. The results reveal that buoyant hydrothermal plumes caused by subaquatic volcanic activity are a possible trigger for increased biological productivity and organic matter preservation, and that ongoing hydrothermal activity increases the alkalinity in the deepwater, leading to carbonate preservation. The onset of carbonate preservation since the 1970s that is currently observed in the sediment could indicate that hydrothermal discharge has recently increased in the lake.

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:

Ross, Kelly-Ann; Schmid, Martin and Anselmetti, Flavio


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




Kluwer Academic




Flavio Anselmetti

Date Deposited:

06 Jun 2014 09:30

Last Modified:

06 May 2022 16:25

Publisher DOI:





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