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Whiting events and the formation of aragonite in Mediterranean Karstic Marine Lakes: new evidence on its biologically induced inorganic origin



This paper discusses the formation of whiting events, drifting milky clouds of water, and their role in the formation of recent aragonite sediments in a semi-enclosed, karstic, marine lake on the island of Mljet (Adriatic Sea). This study is based on detailed structural, morphological and sedimentological characterization of, and strontium distribution in, particles originating from suspended matter and sediments. The particles were examined by X-ray diffraction and electron diffraction analyses, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, as well as electron microprobe energy dispersive X-ray analyses and atomic absorption spectroscopy. Morphological features, granulometric characteristics, strontium enrichment and characteristic details of the aragonite structure in the needle-like particles were identical in both the suspended matter collected during whiting events and in the bottom sediments. The whiting events, which occasionally occurred in surface waters, were found to be sites of short-term active authigenic aragonite precipitation and the main source of fine-grained aragonite mud. This study exemplifies the role of biologically induced inorganic precipitation processes in the formation of recent aragonite mud in a restricted Mediterranean environment.