Weathering Processes and Concentration-Discharge Patterns in Granitic Landscapes of the Critical Zone Network
Abstract:Concentration-discharge relationships for silica in granitic landscapes vary throughout the critical zone network. In the Rio Icacos, Puerto Rico silica concentrations show strong dilution effects (Shanley et al., 2011). At the Boulder Creek CZO the Gordon Gulch catchment shows nearly constant dissolved silica (DSi) concentrations over three orders of magnitude change in discharge (Q). A major question is what controls the range of dilution to chemostatic behavior in catchments with similar lithology. Given that anything but perfect dilution behavior implies an increase in silica flux with increasing Q, we infer that different sources of DSi may be activated at different Q. Tracer data (Ge/Si) indicate that sources of DSi do change with Q in some systems (Kurtz et al., 2011). The CZO sites at Luquillo (LCZO), Boulder (BCCZO), Southern Sierra (SSCZO) and Santa Catalina-Jemez (SCCZO) share similar granitoid bedrock composition. We want to understand how the variation in climate, hydrology and weathering have influenced their regolith development and reach a better understanding of the DSi-Q patterns.
Data from the SSCZO and BCCZO sites indicate that these systems have chemostatic C-Q behavior for Si and other major weathering products. However, Ge/Si and Si relationships between sites vary drastically. At the SSCZO Ge/Si ratios are very low, but increase at lower Si concentrations. This behavior is consistent with release of Si from plagioclase weathering and strong control of DGe by clay neoformation. At BCCZO, Ge/Si increases with increasing Si. In Boulder, DSi (as defined operationally by filtering at 0.45 µm) includes transport as colloidal particles that are important under certain hydrologic states. Thus the hydrochemical mechanisms responsible for chemostatic behavior of DSi differ significantly between the two locations despite similar lithologies and climate. Current work in soil and rock samples from BCCZO and SSCZO will help elaborate how mineralogical assemblages affect C-Q patterns in the critical zone.