9. Sulfur-Iron-Carbon Geochemistry
in Sediments of the Demerara Rise1

Michael E. Böttcher,2, 3 Almut Hetzel,4 Hans-Jürgen Brumsack,4 and Andrea Schipper2


The geochemical composition of sediments (squeeze cake samples) from five drill sites (Ocean Drilling Program Sites 1257–1261) on the Demerara Rise in the tropical Atlantic was determined, with special regard to a sequence of Cretaceous black shales. Sediments were analyzed for different iron (total, pyrite, Na dithionite, and HCl leachable) and sulfur (total, pyrite, acid volatile, and organic bound) fractions, in addition to total organic carbon (TOC) and total inorganic carbon. The relative abundance of highly reactive iron (FeHR/FeT) in the investigated black shale samples indicates that pyrite was formed both in the water column and the sediment. This corresponds to euxinic paleoenvironmental conditions, a situation similar to the modern deep Black Sea. This geochemical approach is independent of a possible minor contribution from ongoing sulfate reduction which is triggered by anaerobic methane oxidation above the black shale sequence. Pyrite sulfur in black shales makes up between 30% and 100% of total sulfur. In addition to fixation of sulfide with iron, organic matter (OM) acted as an important sulfur trap during early diagenesis, with organic sulfur composing between 5 and 10 atom% of TOC. The relative importance of OM sulfurization is increasing with its content.

1Böttcher, M.E., Hetzel, A., Brumsack, H.-J., and Schipper, A., 2006. Sulfur-iron-carbon geochemistry in sediments of the Demerara Rise. In Mosher, D.C., Erbacher, J., and Malone, M.J. (Eds.), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 207: College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program), 1–23. doi:10.2973/odp.proc.sr.207.108.2006

2Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstrasse 1, D-28359 Bremen, Germany.

3Present address: Marine Geochemistry-Geology, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Seestrasse 15, D-18119 Rostock, Germany. michael.boettcher@io-warnemuende.de

4Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, Carl-von-Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, PO Box 2503, D-26111 Oldenburg, Germany.

Initial receipt: 20 July 2005
Acceptance: 30 December 2005
Web publication: 17 November 2006
Ms 207SR-108