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Images of concentrations of dissolved sulphide in the sediment of a lake and implications for internal sulphur cycling



The high-resolution mapping of dissolved sulphide in modern sediment of a permanently stratified (meromictic) lake is possible using a novel sulphide imaging technique (called a ‘sulphur print’). The technique is simple, easy to use and can map a relatively large area (up to several dm2). In situ sulphur prints from anoxic fine-grained sediments are able to reveal internal structures in apparently homogeneous materials. Sulphur prints have been used to examine the formation and distribution of dissolved sulphide in the sediment and water column of the meromictic Lake Cadagno (southern Switzerland). The prints show clearly that a previously unknown laminar convective flow of sulphide-free porewater occurs across the sediment–water interface. Such convective flow out of the sediment must be accompanied by convective flow of sulphide- and sulphate-rich lake water into the sediment, and may be an important mechanism for the accumulation of sulphur in the sediment.