BET surface area distributions in polar stream sediments: Implications for silicate weathering in a cold-arid environment

Applied Geochemistry
By: , and 

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Abstract

BET surface area values are critical for quantifying the amount of potentially reactive sediments available for chemical weathering and ultimately, prediction of silicate weathering fluxes. BET surface area values of fine-grained (<62.5 μm) sediment from the hyporheic zone of polar glacial streams in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica (Wright and Taylor Valleys) exhibit a wide range (2.5–70.6 m2/g) of surface area values. Samples from one (Delta Stream, Taylor Valley) of the four sampled stream transects exhibit high values (up to 70.6 m2/g), which greatly exceed surface area values from three temperate proglacial streams (0.3–12.1 m2/g). Only Clark stream in Wright Valley exhibits a robust trend with distance, wherein surface area systematically decreases (and particle size increases) in the mud fraction downstream, interpreted to reflect rapid dissolution processes in the weathering environment. The remaining transects exhibit a range in variability in surface area distributions along the length of the channel, likely related to variations in eolian input to exposed channel beds, adjacent snow drifts, and to glacier surfaces, where dust is trapped and subsequently liberated during summer melting. Additionally, variations in stream discharge rate, which mobilizes sediment in pulses and influences water:rock ratios, the origin and nature of the underlying drift material, and the contribution of organic acids may play significant roles in the production and mobilization of high-surface area sediment. This study highlights the presence of sediments with high surface area in cold-based glacier systems, which influences models of chemical denudation rates and the impact of glacial systems on the global carbon cycle.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title BET surface area distributions in polar stream sediments: Implications for silicate weathering in a cold-arid environment
Series title Applied Geochemistry
Volume 52
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Science Direct
Publisher location New York, NY
Contributing office(s) Central Energy Resources Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 31
Last page 42
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N