The use of strontium isotopes to evaluate mineral weathering and identify sources of base cations in catchment waters requires an understanding of the behavior of Sr in the soil environment as a function of time. Our approach is to model the temporal evolution of 87Sr/86Sr of the cation exchange pool in a soil chronosequence developed on alluvium derived from central Sierra Nevada granitoids during the past 3 Ma. With increasing soil age, 87Sr/86Sr of ammonium-acetate extractable Sr initially decreases from values typical of K-feldspar to those of plagioclase and hornblende and then remains constant, even though plagioclase and hornblende are absent from the soils after approximately 1 Ma of weathering. The temporal variation of 87Sr/86Sr of exchangeable Sr is modeled by progressively equilibrating Sr derived from mineral weathering and atmospheric deposition with Sr on exchange sites as waters infiltrate a soil column. Observed decreases in quartz-normalized modal abundances of plagioclase, hornblende, and K-feldspar with time, and the distinct 87Sr/86Sr values of these minerals can be used to calculate Sr flux from weathering reactions. Hydrobiotites in the soils have nearly constant modal abundances, chemistry, and 87Sr/86Sr over the chronosequence and provide negligible Sr input to weathering solutions. The model requires time and soil horizon-dependent changes in the amount of exchangeable Sr and the efficiency of Sr exchange, as well as a biologic cycling term. The model predicts that exchangeable Sr initially has 87Sr/86Sr identical to that of K-feldspar, and thus could be dominated by Sr leached from K-feldspar following deposition of the alluvium. The maximum value of 87Sr/86Sr observed in dilute stream waters associated with granitoids of the Yosemite region is likewise similar to that of the K-feldspars, suggesting that K-feldspar and not biotite may be the dominant source of radiogenic Sr in the streams. This study reveals that, when attempting to use Strontium isotopes to identify sources of base cations in catchment waters and biomass, both preferential leaching of Sr from minerals during incipient soil development and changing Sr exchange efficiency must be considered along with chemical contributions due to mineral dissolution. Copyright ?? 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.
Additional publication details
Chemical weathering of a soil chronosequence on granitoid alluvium: II. Mineralogic and isotopic constraints on the behavior of strontium