The biogeochemical cycle of iron and associated elements in Lake Kinneret

Yeala Shaked*, Yigal Erel, Assaf Sukenik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Iron biogeochemical cycling and distribution between particulate, reactive (colloidal + dissolved, oxine-labile, Fe(II)) fractions were studied in the seasonally stratified, mesotrophic Lake Kinneret. This article presents various aspects of the Fe budget in the lake and relates them to the chemical reactivity of various physicochemical forms of Fe.The budget of Fe in Lake Kinneret is dominated by fluvial Fe load, rather than by internal recycling of Fe from the sediment, as shown by the fact that 75 to 94% of the variance in Fe concentrations in the lake can be explained by the fluctuation in the water discharge of the Jordan River. Iron associated with phytoplankton accounts for 9-16% of the bulk particulate Fe in the lake. However, within patches of the dominate algae, the dinoflagellate Peridinium gatunense, algal Fe accounts for more than 70% of the lake's particulate Fe. The algal Fe is predominantly intracellular, and the Fe: chlorophyll a ratios were within the range of published values for dinoflagellates and cyanobacteria. Iron associated with particles larger than 0.025 μm (20-300 nM) accounts for 80-95% of total Fe in the epilimnion of Lake Kinneret throughout the year. In contrast, this fraction of Fe is dominant in the hypolimnion only during the period of lake mixing. Iron concentration of different size fractions (<0.025 μm, <0.2 μm and >0.025 μm) in the surface water covaried throughout the research period. These covariations suggest dynamic transformations of Fe between different size fractions, either due to partial dissolution/precipitation or desorption/adsorption. Oxine-labile Fe concentrations, the Fe fraction considered chemically labile and available for phytoplankton, ranged from 15 to 75 nM. In wintertime, the oxine-labile Fe accounts for only 10-20% of the total Fe, while in other seasons most of the Fe is oxine-labile. Oxine-labile Fe concentrations always exceed the 0.025 μm-filtered Fe, implying that some of the larger particles contain oxine labile-Fe, and therefore are reactive. The fraction of reactive particles in Lake Kinneret (10-80%) is high relative to that of the marine environments, and can most likely be attributed to its fluvial source, which contains a significant proportion of reactive Fe oxide and hydrous oxide particles. The annual variability in the epilimnetic concentrations of other trace elements and nutrients, such as Al, Mn, Cd, Zn, Pb, and P were studied and grouped according to their resemblance with river water discharge, redox processes, or biological uptake and scavenging. Distribution patterns of Al, Pb and Cd resembled that of Fe, suggesting that similar processes control the concentrations of these metals, namely significant contribution from the watershed, high affinity to particulate matter and little control of biota on their fate in the lake. Other elements such as Zn and P are more affected by biological uptake, while Mn is more affected by redox cycling within the lake.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1439-1451
Number of pages13
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Dr. L. Halicz of the Geological Survey of Israel for his Jordan River Fe data and for his help in the ICP-MS metal analysis. Thanks are extended to Dr. O. Sivan for allowing us to analyze her 1995–96 samples and for her Fe data. We thank S. Emmanuel, N. Shefer, N. Listovsky, S. Cohen, N. Nagaouker, and M. Navot for their enthusiastic help in the laboratory and the field work. The devoted researchers and technical staff of the Kinneret limnological laboratory are acknowledged for valuable technical help, access to data, and advice. This research was partially funded by the Yohai Ben-Noon Foundation.


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