Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)
University of Cologne
Museum of Natrual History Berlin
Research on Lake Towuti is carried out by two projects, GeoFeLT and FAMAFED. Both projects are part of a larger DFG-funded proposal bundle, involving the University of Cologne, LIAG Hannover and the Museum of Natural History in Berlin.
The GeoFeLT project investigates the geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry of the iron-rich sediment of Lake Towuti, Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, as part of the ICDP Towuti drilling project. Based on the results from two pilot studies in 2013 and 2014, three major hypotheses were formulated:
- Due to the high abundance of iron and other metals in the water column and sediment of Lake Towuti they play a key role in biogeochemical cycling.
- Lake Towuti is a modern analogue to the ferrouginous oceans of the Archaea and allow studying early diagenesis of such systems in great detail.
- The paleoclimatic changes since the formation of the lake are recorded not just in sedimentological and chemical parameters but in the current and extant microbial community or in their DNA as well.
In summer 2015 the drilling campaign was carried out successfully. For the first time in ICDP history a dedicated core for destructive microbiological and geochemical analyses was recovered. During the extensive on-site sampling and processing transient parameters were measured immediately, other samples were preserved according to their respective requirements. A total of 5 groups work in this research area. The analyses were closely coordinated among the different research groups in order to achieve the best possible coverage.
The PhD student of the GeoFeLT project, André Friese, tests the hypotheses through a wide range of analyses, especially pore water chemistry, turnover rate measurements with radiotracers as well as molecular and microbiological analyses.