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Reactive Fe(III) minerals can influence methane (CH) emissions by inhibiting microbial methanogenesis or by stimulating anaerobic CHoxidation. The balance between Fe(III) reduction, methanogenesis, and CHoxidation in ferruginous Archean and Paleoproterozoic oceans would have controlled CHfluxes to the atmosphere, thereby regulating the capacity for CHto warm the early Earth under the Faint Young Sun. We studied CHand Fe cycling in anoxic incubations of ferruginous sediment from the ancient ocean analogue Lake Matano, Indonesia, over three successive transfers (500 days in total).
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In Lake Matano, Indonesia, the world's largest known ferruginous basin, more than 50% of authigenic organic matter is degraded through methanogenesis, despite high abundances of Fe (hydr)oxides in the lake sediments. Biogenic CH₄ accumulates to high concentrations (up to 1.4 mmol L⁻¹) in the anoxic bottom waters, which contain a total of 7.

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Many physical and chemical processes control the extent of Fe(III) oxyhydroxide reduction by dissimilatory Fe(III)-reducing bacteria. The surface precipitation of secondary Fe minerals on Fe(III) oxyhydroxides limits the extent of microbial Fe(III) reduction, but this phenomenon has not yet been observed in nature. This paper reports the observation of secondary Fe-mineral (goethite) encrustation on ferrihydrite surface within freshwater sediment up to 10 cm deep.

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Modeling the carbon cycle in Lake Matano.

Geobiology 2015 Sep 29;13(5):454-61. Epub 2015 Apr 29.
L B Kuntz, T A Laakso, D P Schrag, S A Crowe
Lake Matano, Indonesia, is a stratified anoxic lake with iron-rich waters that has been used as an analogue for the Archean and early Proterozoic oceans. Past studies of Lake Matano report large amounts of methane production, with as much as 80% of primary production degraded via methanogenesis. Low δ(13)C values of DIC in the lake are difficult to reconcile with this notion, as fractionation during methanogenesis produces isotopically heavy CO2.

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Peatlands are sources of relevant greenhouse gases such as CH4, but the temporal presence of Fe(III) may inhibit methanogenesis. Because excess of carbon during the vegetation period might allow concomitant electron-accepting processes, Fe(III) reduction and methanogenesis were studied during an annual season in an acidic fen. The upper peat layer displayed the highest Fe(II)- and CH4-forming activities.

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