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Concentrations of weathering products in streams often show relatively little variation compared to changes in discharge, both at event and annual scales. In this study, several hypothesized mechanisms for this “chemostatic behavior� were evaluated, and the potential for those mechanisms to influence relations between climate, weathering fluxes, and CO2 consumption via mineral weathering was assessed. Data from Loch Vale, an alpine catchment in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, indicates that cation exchange and seasonal precipitation and dissolution of amorphous or poorly crystalline aluminosilicates are important processes that help regulate solute concentrations in the stream; however, those processes have no...
Stable sulfur isotope ratios and major ions in bulk snowpack samples were monitored at a network of 52 high-elevation sites along and near the Continental Divide from 1993 to 1999. This information was collected to better define atmospheric deposition to remote areas of the Rocky Mountains and to help identify the major source regions of sulfate in winter deposition. Average annual δ34S values at individual sites ranged from +4.0 to +8.2‰ and standard deviations ranged from 0.4 to 1.6‰. The chemical composition of all samples was extremely dilute and slightly acidic; average sulfate concentrations ranged from 2.4 to 12.2 μeq l−1 and pH ranged from 4.82 to 5.70. The range of δ34S values measured in...
Relations between stream water chemistry and topographic, vegetative, and geologic characteristics of basins were evaluated for nine alpine/subalpine basins in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, to identify controlling parameters and to better understand processes governing patterns in stream water chemistry. Fractional amounts of steep slopes (≥30°), unvegetated terrain, and young surficial debris within each basin were positively correlated to each other. These terrain features, which commonly occur on steep valley side slopes underlain by talus, were negatively correlated with concentrations of base cations, silica, and alkalinity and were positively correlated with nitrate, acidity, and runoff. These...
High-elevation lakes in the western United States are sensitive to atmospheric deposition of sulfur and nitrogen due to fast hydrologic flushing rates, short growing seasons, an abundance of exposed bedrock, and a lack of well-developed soils. This sensitivity is reflected in the dilute chemistry of the lakes, which was documented in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Western Lake Survey of 1985. Sixty-nine lakes in seven national parks sampled during the 1985 survey were resampled during fall 1999 to investigate possible decadal-scale changes in lake chemistry. In most lakes, SO4 concentrations were slightly lower in 1999 than in 1985, consistent with a regional decrease in precipitation SO4 concentrations...
Sulphur 35, a cosmogenically produced radioisotope with a short half-life (87 days), was measured in snowpack during 1993–1997 and at four locations within the Loch Vale watershed during 1995–1997. The four sites include the two main drainages in the watershed, Andrews Creek and Icy Brook, a small south facing catchment flowing into Andrews Creek (Andrews Spring 1), and a similar north facing catchment flowing out of a scree field into Icy Brook (Spring 19). Concentrations ranged from a high of almost 50 mBq/L for a sample from Spring 19 in June 1996 to a concentration near the detection limit for a sample from Andrews Creek in April 1997. Sulphur 35 concentrations were normalized to sulphate (as mBq/mg SO4−2)...
Seasonal snowpack chemistry data from the Rocky Mountain region of the US was examined to identify long-term trends in concentration and chemical deposition in snow and in snow-water equivalent. For the period 1993–2004, comparisons of trends were made between 54 Rocky Mountain Snowpack sites and 16 National Atmospheric Deposition Program wetfall sites located nearby in the region. The region was divided into three subregions: Northern, Central, and Southern. A non-parametric correlation method known as the Regional Kendall Test was used. This technique collectively computed the slope, direction, and probability of trend for several sites at once in each of the Northern, Central, and Southern Rockies subregions....