Ge/Si, Ca/Sr and 87Sr/86Sr tracers of biogeochemical sources and cycling of Si and Ca at the Shale Hills CZO

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Louis A Derry, Katherine Meek and Jed P Sparks, Cornell Univ, Ithaca, NY, United States
Plant uptake and cycling of nutrients is commonly the largest flux of nutrients in terrestrial ecosystems. Hydrologic and other losses are offset by inputs from atmospheric deposition and weathering. We measured elemental and isotopic compositions from soil solution, soil exchange complex, leaves and sapwater from two canopy species, soil and rock samples, and stream and ground waters at the Shale Hills CZO. Xylem fluid and leaf samples have similar Ge/Si < 1 µmo/mol, consistent with fractionation at the root-soil water interface. Ge/Si in soil waters is higher Ge/Si near the surface and increases over the growing season, indicating preferential uptake of Si. Ca/Sr in leaves of Quercus are significantly higher (450±150) than for Acer (200±100), and Ca/Sr is generally higher in leaves than in xylem, consistent with Ca uptake during transpiration. 87Sr/86Sr in both are similar for a given site, implying that the trees access similar pools of Sr and Ca, although there are site-to-site differences. Data on litterfall rates and transpiration rates yield similar estimates of plant cycling of Ca and Si. 87Sr/86Sr in soil solutions from ridgtop and swale sites are well explained by mixing Sr derived from shale and atmospheric deposition. Valley bottom soil solutions and stream and groundwater samples include Sr and Ca derived from dissolution of diagenetic carbonates, found in drill cuttings. A preliminary estimate of the Sr and Ca stream fluxes and isotopic mass balances imply propagation of a carbonate weathering front of ca. 200 m/Ma, faster than previously reported regolith weathering advance rates based on on cosmogenic nuclides and U series (Jin et al., 2010; Ma et al., 2010). These rates are not strictly comparable and differences are at least in part consistent with the greater depth of the carbonate weathering front (Brantley et al, 2013). The data for Ca, Sr, Si and Ge in soil, soil solutions and stream waters reflects the interaction of slower weathering processes with fast biologically driven cycling between soils and biomass.