from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mud rich in organic matter formed at the bottom of a body of water.
  • n. A fluid slime found in swamps as a product of putrefaction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. an aquatic sludge-like sediment rich in organic matter formed in stagnant water

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. sludge (rich in organic matter) that accumulates at the bottom of lakes or oceans


sapro- + Greek pēlos, mud.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
sapro- + Ancient Greek πηλός ("clay") (Wiktionary)


  • Throughout the Black Sea the cores showed the same stratigraphy: a sediment with remains of freshwater mollusks overlain by a wet, dark, organic-rich layer known as a sapropel, above which are normal marine sediments with saltwater mollusk shells.

    Books: Neolithic Noah

  • Remains of freshwater creatures killed by the saltwater and of terrestrial plants inundated by it settled in an organic rich blanket over the bottom, the sapropel found throughout the Black Sea basin today.

    Books: Neolithic Noah

  • (Another expedition obtained similar dates for the base of the sapropel in nine other cores.)

    Books: Neolithic Noah

  • Gert de Lange investigated the most recently developed bed, sapropel S1.


  • Going upward from this depth level, the organic content of sapropel S1 decreases corresponding to an increasing average oxygen content and concomitant breakdown of the organic material.



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