Substantial diel (24-hour) cycles in dissolved (0.1-??m filtration) metal concentrations were observed during low flow for 18 sampling episodes at 14 sites on 12 neutral and alkaline streams draining historical mining areas in Montana and Idaho. At some sites, concentrations of Cd, Mn, Ni, and Zn increased as much as 119, 306, 167, and 500%, respectively, from afternoon minimum values to maximum values shortly after sunrise. Arsenic concentrations exhibited the inverse temporal pattern with increases of up to 54%. Variations in Cu concentrations were small and inconsistent. Diel metal cycles are widespread and persistent, occur over a wide range of metal concentrations, and likely are caused primarily by instream geochemical processes. Adsorption is the only process that can explain the inverse temporal patterns of As and the divalent metals. Diel metal cycles have important implications for many types of water-quality studies and for understanding trace-metal mobility.
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Diel cycles in dissolved metal concentrations in streams: Occurrence and possible causes