Ca/Sr and Sr isotope systematics of a Himalayan glacial chronosequence: Carbonate versus silicate weathering rates as a function of landscape surface age

Andrew D. Jacobson*, Joel D. Blum, C. Page Chamberlain, Michael A. Poage, Valerie F. Sloan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations

Abstract

We explored changes in the relative importance of carbonate vs. silicate weathering as a function of landscape surface age by examining the Ca/Sr and Sr isotope systematics of a glacial soil chronosequence located in the Raikhot watershed within the Himalaya of northern Pakistan. Bedrock in the Raikhot watershed primarily consists of silicate rock (Ca/Sr ≈ 0.20 μmo1/nmol, 87Sr/86Sr ≈ 0.77 to 1.2) with minor amounts of disseminated calcite (Ca/Sr ≈ 0.98 to 5.3 μmol/nmol, 87Sr/86Sr ≈ 0.79 to 0.93) and metasedimentary carbonate (Ca/Sr ≈ 1.0 to 2.8 μmol/nmol, 87Sr/86Sr ≈ 0.72 to 0.82). Analysis of the exchangeable, carbonate, and silicate fractions of seven soil profiles ranging in age from ~0.5 to ~55 kyr revealed that carbonate dissolution provides more than ~90% of the weathering-derived Ca and Sr for at least 55 kyr after the exposure of rock surfaces, even though carbonate represents only ~1.0 wt% of fresh glacial till. The accumulation of carbonate-bearing dust deposited on the surfaces of older landforms partly sustains the longevity of the carbonate weathering flux. As the average landscape surface age in the Raikhot watershed increases, the Ca/Sr and 87Sr/86Sr ratios released by carbonate weathering decrease from ~3.6 to ~0.20 μmol/nmol and ~0.84 to ~0.72, respectively. The transition from high to low Ca/Sr ratios during weathering appears to reflect the greater solubility of high Ca/Sr ratio carbonate relative to low Ca/Sr ratio carbonate. These findings suggest that carbonate weathering controls the dissolved flux of Sr emanating from stable Himalayan landforms comprising mixed silicate and carbonate rock for tens of thousands of years after the mechanical exposure of rock surfaces to the weathering environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume66
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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