The role of critical zone processes in the evolution of the Prairie Pothole Region wetlands

Applied Geochemistry
By: , and 



The Prairie Pothole Region, which occupies 900,000 km2 of the north central USA and south central Canada, is one of the most important ecosystems in North America. It is characterized by millions of small wetlands whose chemistry is highly variable over short distances. The study involved the geochemistry of surface sediments, wetland water, and groundwater in the Cottonwood Lakes area of North Dakota, USA, whose 92 ha includes the dominant wetland hydrologic settings. The data show that oxygenated groundwater interacting with pyrite resident in a component of surficial glacial till derived from the marine Pierre Shale Formation has, over long periods of time, focused SO 4 2 - -bearing fluids from upland areas to topographically low areas. In these low areas, SO 4 2 - -enriched groundwater and wetlands have evolved, as has the CaSO4 mineral gypsum. Sulfur isotope data support the conclusion that isotopically light pyrite from marine shale is the source of SO 4 2 - . Literature data on wetland water composition suggests that this process has taken place over a large area in North Dakota.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The role of critical zone processes in the evolution of the Prairie Pothole Region wetlands
Series title Applied Geochemistry
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2011.03.022
Volume 26
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher ScienceDirect
Contributing office(s) Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page S32
Last page S35
Country United States
State North Dakota
Other Geospatial Cottonwood Lake
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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