Lake Sevan is a meso-eutrophic water body, which was severely impacted by anthropogenic level decrease, pollution and eutrophication during the last century. Starting in the 1970s, these processes resulted in the formation of an oxygen-depleted hypolimnion during summer-autumn stratification of the lake. In this work, we demonstrate for the first time that eutrophication of the lake leads not only to the full depletion of oxygen and nitrate in the hypolimnion but as well to the presence of sulfate-reducing microorganisms and toxic hydrogen sulfide. Concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in the hypolimnion of Major and Minor Sevan in October were as high as 9 and 39 μM, respectively. In October 2019, 66 % of lake's bottom was covered by sulfidic waters, while the fraction of sulfidic water volume reached 19 %. Values of δ<sup>34</sup>S for hypolimnetic sulfide are lower by only 7-12 ‰ compared to epilimnetic sulfate, while δ<sup>33</sup>S values of sulfide are similar to the δ<sup>33</sup>S values of sulfate. These isotopic fingerprints are not consistent with microbial sulfate reduction as the sole source of hydrogen sulfide in the hypolimnion. We attribute the formation of a sulfidic deep-water layer to a combination of microbial sulfate reduction in the water column and diffusion of hydrogen sulfide from the sediments.
Isotopes Environ Health Stud (Isotopes in environmental and health studies)
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