High Sulfur Isotope Fractionation Associated with Anaerobic Oxidation of Methane in a Low-Sulfate, Iron-Rich Environment
Bacteria that disproportionate elemental sulfur fractionate sulfur isotopes such that sulfate is enriched in sulfur-34 by 12.6 to 15.3 per mil and sulfide is depleted in sulfur-34 by 7.3 to 8.6 per mil. Through a repeated cycle of sulfide oxidation to S0 and subsequent disproportionation, these bacteria can deplete sedimentary sulfides in sulfur-34. A prediction, borne out by observation, is that more extensive sulfide oxidation will lead to sulfides that are more depleted in sulfur-34. Thus, the oxidative part of the sulfur cycle creates circumstances by which sulfides become more depleted in sulfur-34 than would be possible with sulfate-reducing bacteria alone.