Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Suboxic Sediments

  • Rosalie TostevinEmail author
  • Simon W. Poulton
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_5419-1


The suboxic zone lies between the oxic and anoxic zones, where the concentrations of both dissolved oxygen and sulfide are low. Sediment pore waters are generally driven to suboxic conditions via microbial degradation of organic matter, and these intermediate waters commonly host the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen, manganese, and iron. Suboxic pore waters modify the chemistry and mineralogy of sediments between their deposition and eventual burial and represent an important component of early diagenesis.


A classification scheme for suboxic sediments was originally outlined by Froelich et al. (1979), based on chemical profiles of pore waters within marine sediments. These sediments were deposited below oxygenated bottom waters, but contained sufficient organic carbon to consume oxygen (via aerobic respiration) from pore waters. Froelich et al. (1979) defined suboxic sediments as those which support the reduction of nitrate, manganese, and iron before the onset of...


Oxygen Redox Diagenesis Organic carbon Microbes Respiration Pore waters 
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References and Further Reading

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  9. Oakley BB, Francis CA, Roberts KJ, Fuchsman CA, Srinivasan S, Staley JT (2007) Analysis of nitrite reductase (nirK and nirS) genes and cultivation reveal depauperate community of denitrifying bacteria in the Black Sea suboxic zone. Environ Microbiol 9:118–130.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1462-2920.2006.01121.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.School of Earth and EnvironmentUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK