Stable Strontium Isotopes (δ88/86Sr) As a Tracer of Sr Sources and Biogeochemical Cycling in Two Catchments Draining Fiordland, New Zealand
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
To understand how Sr isotopes behave during chemical weathering and biogeochemical cycling, we analyzed the stable Sr isotope composition (δ88/86Sr) of rivers, rocks, sediments, plants, and soils from the Cleddau and Hollyford catchments in Fiordland, New Zealand. We leached rocks, sediments, and soils to isolate relatively soluble Sr sources. δ88/86Sr values were measured using an 87Sr-84Sr double-spike MC-TIMS method, which was optimized according to the Monte Carlo error model described in Lehn et al. (2013). The long-term, external reproducibility of the method is ±0.020‰ (2σSD) based on repeated measurements of NBS-987 [δ88/86Sr = 0.000 ± 0.004‰ (2σSEM), n=77] and IAPSO seawater [δ88/86Sr = 0.396 ± 0.005‰ (2σSEM), n=54]. Although the study site receives abundant rainfall (6700mm/yr), atmospheric inputs of Sr are negligible. We find that δ88/86Sr values can distinguish between silicate- versus carbonate- derived riverine Sr sources when traditional tracers, such as radiogenic Sr isotope (87Sr/86Sr) and molar Ca/Sr ratios, are equivocal. Moreover, rivers draining gabbro bedrock in the Cleddau and Upper Hollyford catchments have higher δ88/86Sr values (0.368‰) as compared to bulk silicate rock (0.162 – 0.284‰) and sediment (0.286‰). In the Lower Hollyford catchment, tributary rivers draining volcanic and sedimentary rocks also have higher δ88/86Sr values (0.328‰) as compared to bulk silicate rock (0.177‰) and sediment (0.260‰). We examine several hypotheses to explain the elevated riverine δ88/86Sr values, including end-member mixing, fractionation during chemical weathering, and plant uptake. We attribute the riverine δ88/86Sr values to mixing with the soil pore water pool, which is isotopically heavy due to preferential uptake of 86Sr by plants.