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.


  • 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


The word 'sapropel' comes from Greek roots meaning 'putrid' and 'mud'.