A laboratory study was performed to simulate field weathering and nitrogen release from bedrock in a setting where geologic nitrogen has been suspected to be a large local source of nitrate. Two rock types containing nitrogen, slate (1370 mg N kg-1) and greenstone (480 mg N kg-1), were used along with saprolite and BC horizon sand from soils derived from these rock types. The fresh rock and weathered material were used in batch reactors that were leached every 30 days over 6 months to simulate a single wet season. Nitrogen was released from rock and soil materials at rates between 10-20 and 10-19 mo1 N cm-2 s-1. Results from the laboratory dissolution experiments were compared to in situ soil solutions and available mineral nitrogen pools from the BC horizon of both soils. Concentrations of mineral nitrogen (NO3- + NH4+) in soil solutions reached the highest levels at the beginning of the rainy season and progressively decreased with increased leaching. This seasonal pattern was repeated for the available mineral nitrogen pool that was extracted using a KCl solution. Estimates based on these laboratory release rates bracket stream water NO3-N fluxes and changes in the available mineral nitrogen pool over the active leaching period. These results confirm that geologic nitrogen, when present, may be a large and reactive pool that may contribute as a non-point source of nitrate contamination to surface and ground waters. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Nitrogen release from rock and soil under simulated field conditions