Journal Article

Bacterial magnetite produced in water column dominates lake sediment mineral magnetism: Lake Ely, USA

BangYeon Kim, Kenneth P. Kodama and Robert E. Moeller

in Geophysical Journal International

Volume 163, issue 1, pages 26-37
Published in print October 2005 | ISSN: 0956-540X
Published online October 2005 | e-ISSN: 1365-246X | DOI:
Bacterial magnetite produced in water column dominates lake sediment mineral magnetism: Lake Ely, USA

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Environmental magnetic studies of annually laminated sediments from Lake Ely, northeastern Pennsylvania, USA indicate that bacterial magnetite is the dominant magnetic mineral in the lake sediment. In previous studies of Lake Ely sediment, the dark, organic-rich layers in the annual laminae were interpreted to have high-intensity saturation isothermal remanent magnetizations (SIRMs) while the light-coloured, silt-rich layers have low-intensity SIRMs. To test the hypothesis that the magnetic grains in the sediments were an authigenic product of magnetotactic bacteria rather than detrital magnetic grains eroded from the watershed, we analysed samples from the water column, the lake sediment, and a sediment trap installed near the lake bottom. Direct microscopic observation of the water column samples showed the presence of magnetotactic bacteria in and below the oxic-anoxic transition zone (OATZ). To characterize the magnetic minerals, rock magnetic parameters were measured for material from the water column, the sediment trap and the dark- and light-coloured lake sediments. Low-temperature magnetic measurements tested for the presence of magnetosomes in separated dark- and light-coloured layer samples. Numeric unmixing of the low-temperature results showed that biogenic magnetites were present in the lake sediment and contributed more significantly to the SIRM in the dark, organic-rich layers than in the light-coloured, inorganic silt-rich layers. Observations under the transmission electron microscope (TEM) of magnetic extracts also show the abundance of magnetosomes in the lake sediment. The presence of live magnetotactic bacteria in the water column and the predominance of bacterial magnetites in filtered particulate matter, sediment traps and recent lake sediment all suggest that bacterial magnetites are the main magnetic minerals in Lake Ely sediment. This finding suggests that changes in environmental factors that control the productivity of magnetic bacteria in the lake likely contribute to the variability of magnetic mineral concentrations observed in the lake sediments.

Keywords: lake sediments; magnetite; rock magnetism

Journal Article.  8480 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Geophysics

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