Major element mass balances for Lake Baikal are calculated with mostly previously published data for soluble fluxes and new, unpublished data for riverine suspended particulate matter chemistry. Physical transport seems to be the most important riverine process. The elements Ca, Mg, and Na seem to be very mobile in the weathering mantle and K and Si seem to be relatively mobile. A comparison of elemental input-output budgets and mass accumulation rates (MAR) in bottom sediments shows that most major elements, except Ca, Si, and Mn, have comparable riverine particulate matter fluxes and MARs. The addition of wet atmospheric deposition fluxes results in an excess of Ca, Mg, and Na entering the lake. The additive effect of these excess inputs during a 40-year period amounts to undetectable concentration increases in the water column. If erosion of weathered bedrock is the source of most dissolved and all particulate matter transported to the lake, theoretical elemental fluxes can be calculated with Al as the conservative element. Flux ratios (observed/theoretical) range from 0.7 to 2.2, but most fall within the acceptable range of 0.7-1.5. Major rock-forming elements are carried by rivers as weathering products and there are minimal biogeochemical processes that modify these inputs as suspended particulate matter accumulates in the bottom sediments of the lake.
Additional publication details
Geochemical mass balances of major elements in Lake Baikal