Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in Lake Fryxell, 10 streams flowing into the lake, and the moat surrounding the lake was studied to determine the influence of sources and biogeochemical processes on its distribution and chemical nature. Lake Fryxell is an amictic, permanently ice-covered lake in the McMurdo Dry Valleys which contains benthic and planktonic microbial populations, but receives essentially no input of organic material from the ahumic soils of the watershed. Biological activity in the water column does not appear to influence the DOC depth profile, which is similar to the profiles for conservative inorganic constituents. DOC values for the streams varied with biomass in the stream channel, and ranged from 0.2 to 9.7 mg C/L. Fulvic acids in the streams were a lower percentage of the total DOC than in the lake. These samples contain recent carbon and appear to be simpler mixtures of compounds than the lake samples, indicating that they have undergone less humification. The fulvic acids from just above the sediments of the lake have a high sulfur content and are highly aliphatic. The main transformations occurring as these fractions diffuse upward in the water column are 1) loss of sulfur groups through the oxycline and 2) decrease in aliphatic carbon and increase in the heterogeneity of aliphatic moieties. The fraction of modem 14C content of the lake fulvic acids range from a minimum of 0.68 (approximately 3000 years old) at 15m depth to 0.997 (recent material) just under the ice. The major processes controlling the DOC in the lake appear to be: 1) The transport of organic matter by the inflow streams resulting in the addition of recent organic material to the moat and upper waters of the lake; 2) The diffusion of organic matter composed of relict organic material and organic carbon resulting from the degradation of algae and bacteria from the bottom waters or sediments of the lake into overlying glacial melt water; 3) The addition of recent organic matter to the bottom waters of the lake from the moat.
Additional publication details
Geochemistry of aquatic humic substances in the Lake Fryxell basin, Antarctica