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[sap-ruh-pel] /ˈsæp rəˌpɛl/
mud consisting chiefly of decomposed organic matter formed at the bottom of a stagnant sea or lake.
1905-10; sapro- + -pel < Greek pēlós mud
Related forms
sapropelic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for sapropelic


an unconsolidated sludge consisting of the decomposed remains of aquatic organisms, esp algae, that accumulates at the bottoms of lakes and oceans
Derived Forms
sapropelic, adjective
Word Origin
C20: from sapro- + -pel from Greek pēlos mud
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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sapropelic in Science
An unconsolidated ooze consisting mainly of putrefied plant remains and found in anaerobic areas at the bottom of swamps, lakes, and shallow seas.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for sapropelic


unconsolidated sedimentary deposit rich in bituminous substances. It is distinguished from peat in being rich in fatty and waxy substances and poor in cellulosic material. When consolidated into rock, sapropel becomes oil shale, bituminous shale, or boghead coal. The principal components are certain types of algae that are rich in fats and waxes. Minor constituents are mineral grains and decomposed fragments of spores, fungi, and bacteria. The organic materials accumulate in water under reducing conditions

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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