Turbidite deposition and diagenesis in the southwestern Black Sea: Implications for biogeochemical cycling in an anoxic basin

Kraal P., YÜCEL M., Slomp C. P.

MARINE CHEMISTRY, vol.209, pp.48-61, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 209
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.marchem.2019.01.001
  • Journal Name: MARINE CHEMISTRY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.48-61
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The biogeochemical cycles of iron, phosphorus and sulfur are intimately linked and the fate of these elements is highly redox-dependent. Under anoxic conditions, iron is reduced to Fe(II), for an important part driven by reaction with sulfide. Reduction and sulfidation diminish the affinity of iron for phosphorus, thereby affecting sedimentary phosphorus retention. The coupled cycling of iron-phosphorus-sulfur as a function of redox conditions thereby helps control nutrient availability and primary productivity in marine systems. The Black Sea is the world's largest permanently stratified basin with a strong gradient from oxic surface waters to anoxic and strongly sulfidic deep waters, and is therefore well-suited to investigate redox-dependent changes in coupled iron-phosphorus-sulfur cycling. The presence of sulfide in the deep Black Sea alters the chemical speciation of iron (Fe) and phosphorus (P) in particulate matter in the water column and sediment. These alterations and their impact are poorly constrained for turbidites, which are deposits formed by mass transport from the continental slope into the deep basin of the Black Sea through turbidity currents. Here, we compare the geochemistry of sediments on the southwestern (SW) Black Sea slope overlain by oxygenated waters (234 m below sea surface, mbss) with that of a sediment record with turbidite intervals from the sulfidic SW deep basin (2169 mbss). The aims were to investigate the potential of SW slope sediment as source material for turbidites, and to assess the geochemical impact of reaction with sulfide. The bulk chemistry (Al, CaCO3, Fe) of the SW deep Black Sea turbidite intervals was similar to that of SW Black Sea slope sediments (234 m water depth), suggesting that the latter are source material for deep SW Black Sea turbidites. The source sediment is characterized by strong enrichments in highly reactive Fe(III) and Mn phases, high rates of sulfate reduction and the presence of methane. Similar total Fe contents in the slope and deep turbidite sediments suggest that Fe is efficiently retained in the sediment. In contrast, Mn is depleted during down-slope transport and P contents in the turbidite intervals are about 50% lower than in the slope sediment, indicating significant P release during and after turbidite deposition. Calculations using the obtained data and conservative estimates of the areal extent of turbidite deposition in the SW Black Sea indicate that turbidity currents have the potential to impact coupled Fe-P-S biogeochemical cycling by boosting Fe input, dissolved P accumulation, sulfide oxidation and FeS2 burial in the deep Black Sea.