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Mineralogical sources of the buffer capacity in a granite catchment determined by strontium isotopes

Abstract : The role of different minerals in base cation release and thus the increase of buffering capacity of groundwater against acid deposition is controversially discussed in the literature. The 87Sr/86Sr ratios and base cation concentration were investigated in whole rock leachates, mineral separates, precipitation, soil solution, groundwater and stream water samples in the Lehstenbach catchment (Germany) to identify the weathering sequence of the granite bedrock. Three different approaches were followed in parallel. It was assumed that the contribution of different minerals to base cation supply of the groundwater with increasing weathering intensity would be observed by investigating (1) unweathered rock leachates, deep groundwater and shallow groundwater, (2) groundwater samples from new groundwater wells, reflecting the initial weathering of the drilled bedrock, and groundwater from wells that were drilled in 1988, (3) stream water during baseflow, dominated by deep groundwater, and stream water during high flow, being predominantly shallow groundwater. Whereas the first approach yielded consistent patterns, there was some evidence that groundwater from the new wells initially reflected contamination by the filter gravel rather than cation release in an initial stage of weathering. Time series samples of stream water and groundwater solute concentrations and isotope ratios turned out to reflect varying fractions of soil water and precipitation water at baseflow and high flow conditions rather than varying contributions of different minerals that prevail at different stages of granite weathering. The early phase of weathering was clearly dominated by base cation release from biotite weathering and to a lesser extent by apatite dissolution. Feldspars contributed to base cation release as well, but could not be regarded as endmembers of the mixing diagram. There was no clear evidence for a contribution from calcite. Correspondingly, base cation input by atmospheric deposition and liming had only minor effects on groundwater buffer capacity.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - 2:32:37 PM
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Christina Weyer, Gunnar Lischeid, Luc Aquilina, Anne-Catherine Pierson-Wickmann, C. Martin. Mineralogical sources of the buffer capacity in a granite catchment determined by strontium isotopes. Applied Geochemistry, Elsevier, 2008, 23 (10), pp.2888-2905. ⟨10.1016/j.apgeochem.2008.04.006⟩. ⟨insu-00348016⟩



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