Eutrophication leads to the formation of a sulfide-rich deep-water layer in Lake Sevan, Armenia

Khoren Avetisyan, Natella Mirzoyan, Rayford B. Payne, Vardan Hayrapetyan, Alexey Kamyshny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 δ34S for hypolimnetic sulfide are lower by only 7–12 ‰ compared to epilimnetic sulfate, while δ33S values of sulfide are similar to the δ33S 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-552
Number of pages18
JournalIsotopes in Environmental and Health Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Armenia
  • Lake Sevan
  • biogeochemistry
  • deep-water
  • eutrophication
  • nutrients
  • sulfur-32
  • sulfur-33
  • sulfur-34

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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