Climate change and productivity variations recorded by sedimentary sulfur in Lake Edward, Uganda/D. R. Congo

James M. Russell, Josef P. Werne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We investigate changes in the sulfur geochemistry of sediment cores from Lake Edward, Uganda/Congo to constrain the effects of recent climate changes in the region on the partitioning and isotopic composition of reduced sedimentary sulfur. We measured the concentration and isotopic composition of kerogen sulfur, chromium-reducible, and acid-volatile sulfides, as well as the abundance and partitioning of sedimentary phosphorus and iron, and the abundance and isotopic composition of organic carbon and nitrogen. Results indicate an approximately 150% increase in sulfur concentrations in sediments from Lake Edward over the past 200 years, during which time rainfall in the basin increased and the salinity of the lake fell. Increased sulfur concentrations are largely accounted for by increasing concentrations of kerogen sulfur, which is likely caused by environmentally-driven changes in organic matter quality and concentration, including increased anoxia and nutrient supply to the lake during wet intervals. The isotopic compositions of sedimentary sulfur pools support our interpretation that organic sulfur is derived primarily from sulfurization reactions in the sediment rather than primary bio-sulfur, and gradual isotopic enrichment of the δ34S of sedimentary pyrite and kerogen sulfur could result from decreased lake salinity and sulfate availability during the past 200 years. These results highlight the importance of understanding environmentally-mediated changes in organic sulfur accumulation in interpreting the sulfur geochemistry of sediments and sedimentary rocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-346
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jun 30 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Tim Lyons is gratefully acknowledged for the full access to his laboratory facilities for sulfur geochemical analyses. We thank Eric Castro for the laboratory assistance, and Doug Schnurrenberger, Kristina Beuning, Chris Scholz, and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Dept. of Uganda for the assistance in the field. This research was funded by NSF-ATM 0314832 to JR and a University of Minnesota Grant-In-Aid of Research #19204 to JPW.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biogeochemistry
  • Lake
  • Paleoclimate
  • Sediment
  • Sulfur


Dive into the research topics of 'Climate change and productivity variations recorded by sedimentary sulfur in Lake Edward, Uganda/D. R. Congo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this