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This paper describes the chemical and isotope features of water and dissolved gases from lake Paterno (max. depth 54 m), a sinkhole located in the NE sector of the S. Vittorino plain (Rieti, Central Italy), where evidences of past and present hydrothermal activity exists. In winter (February 2011) lake Paterno waters were almost completely mixed, whereas in summer time (July 2011) thermal and chemical stratifications established. During the stratification period, water and dissolved gas chemistry along the vertical water column were mainly controlled by biological processes, such as methanogenesis, sulfate-reduction, calcite precipitation, denitrification, and NH4 and H2 production. Reducing conditions at the interface between the bottom sediments and the anoxic waters are responsible for the relatively high concentrations of dissolved iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn), likely present in their reduced oxidation state. Minerogenic and biogenic products were recognized at the lake bottom even during the winter sampling. At relatively shallow depth the distribution of CH4 and CO2 was controlled by methanotrophic bacteria and photosynthesis, respectively. The carbon isotope signature of CO2 indicates a significant contribution of deep-originated inorganic CO2 that is related to the hydrothermal system feeding the CO2-rich mineralized springs discharging in the surrounding areas of lake Paterno. The seasonal lake stratification likely controls the vertical and horizontal distribution of fish populations in the different periods of the year.
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