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Geobiology. 2015 Sep;13(5):454-61. doi: 10.1111/gbi.12141. Epub 2015 Apr 29.

Modeling the carbon cycle in Lake Matano.

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Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Earth, Ocean, & Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Lake Matano, Indonesia, is a stratified anoxic lake with iron-rich waters that has been used as an analogue for the Archean and early Proterozoic oceans. Past studies of Lake Matano report large amounts of methane production, with as much as 80% of primary production degraded via methanogenesis. Low δ(13)C values of DIC in the lake are difficult to reconcile with this notion, as fractionation during methanogenesis produces isotopically heavy CO2. To help reconcile these observations, we develop a box model of the carbon cycle in ferruginous Lake Matano, Indonesia, that satisfies the constraints of CH4 and DIC isotopic profiles, sediment composition, and alkalinity. We estimate methane fluxes smaller than originally proposed, with about 9% of organic carbon export to the deep waters degraded via methanogenesis. In addition, despite the abundance of Fe within the waters, anoxic ferric iron respiration of organic matter degrades <3% of organic carbon export, leaving methanogenesis as the largest contributor to anaerobic organic matter remineralization, while indicating a relatively minor role for iron as an electron acceptor. As the majority of carbon exported is buried in the sediments, we suggest that the role of methane in the Archean and early Proterozoic oceans is less significant than presumed in other studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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