An interpretation of carbon and sulfur relationships in Black Sea sediments as indicators of environments of deposition
Syngenetic iron sulfides in sediments are formed from dissolved sulfide resulting from sulfate reduction and catabolism of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria. It has been shown that in recent marine sediments deposited below oxygenated waters there is a constant relationship between reduced sulfur and organic carbon which is generally independent of the environment of deposition. Reexamination of data from recent sediments from euxinic marine environments ( e.g., the Black Sea) also shows a linear relationship between carbon and sulfur, but the slope is variable and the line intercepts the S axis at a value between 1 and 2 percent S. It is proposed that the positive S intercept is due to watercolumn microbial reduction of sulfate using metabolizable small organic molecules and the sulfide formed is precipitated and accumulates at the sediment-water interface. The variation in slope and intercept of the C to S plots for several cores and for different stratigraphic zones for the Black Sea can be interpreted in relation to thickness of the aqueous sulfide layer or thinness of the oxygen containing layer and to deposition rate, but also may be influenced by availability of iron, and perhaps the type of organic matter (Leventhal, 1979).