A wet climatic period was responsible for the phenomenon. According to climate scenarios, the climate may become wetter in this area, potentially giving rise again to a period of oxygen-free bottom-water. These results are published in the September issue of Nature Geoscience.
Alternating organic-rich and organic-poor beds have been deposited on the floor of the Eastern Mediterranean. These deposits coincide with the alternation of wet and dry climatic periods. Researchers believe that the organic-rich beds, called sapropels, can originate in two ways: 1. More organisms live in the surface water because, for example, rivers introduce more nutrients. As a result, more organisms sink to the bottom when they die. 2. The organic material is better preserved. If dead organisms sink to an oxygen-free bottom, the organic material breaks down less well.Sapropel
This research shows that there is a high chance of finding organic-rich deposits in an environment devoid of oxygen. Climate change may contribute to the formation of organic-rich beds. Besides sequestering large quantities of CO2, these separated beds can also be converted into oil over the course of time.
This research forms part of the PASS project, a marine programme in the Eastern Mediterranean. NWO Earth and Life Sciences financed the necessary logistics, such as ship and equipment lease via the National Research Cruise Programme.
Kim van den Wijngaard | alfa
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