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DOC sources and DOC transport pathways in a small headwater catchment as revealed by carbon isotope fluctuation during storm events

Abstract : Monitoring the isotopic composition ( 13CDOC) of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) during flood events can be helpful for locating DOC sources in catchments and quantifying their relative contribution to stream DOC flux. Highresolution (< hourly basis) 13CDOC data were obtained during six successive storm events occurring during the highflow period in a small headwater catchment in western France. Intra-storm 13CDOC values exhibit a marked temporal variability, with some storms showing large variations (> 2 ‰), and others yielding a very restricted range of values (< 1 ‰). Comparison of these results with previously published data shows that the range of intra-storm 13CDOC values closely reflects the temporal and spatial variation in 13CDOC observed in the riparian soils of this catchment during the same period. Using 13CDOC data in conjunction with hydrometric monitoring and an end-member mixing approach (EMMA), we show that (i) > 80% of the stream DOC flux flows through the most superficial soil horizons of the riparian domain and (ii) the riparian soil DOC flux is comprised of DOC coming ultimately from both riparian and upland domains. Based on its 13C fingerprint, we find that the upland DOC contribution decreases from ca. 30% of the stream DOC flux at the beginning of the high-flow period to < 10% later in this period. Overall, upland domains contribute significantly to stream DOC export, but act as a sizelimited reservoir, whereas soils in the wetland domains act as a near-infinite reservoir. Through this study, we show that 13CDOC provides a powerful tool for tracing DOC sources and DOC transport mechanisms in headwater catchments, having a high-resolution assessment of temporal and spatial variability.
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Thibault Lambert, Anne-Catherine Pierson-Wickmann, Gérard Gruau, Anne Jaffrézic, Patrice Petitjean, et al.. DOC sources and DOC transport pathways in a small headwater catchment as revealed by carbon isotope fluctuation during storm events. Biogeosciences, European Geosciences Union, 2014, 11 (11), pp.3043-3056. ⟨10.5194/bg-11-3043-2014⟩. ⟨insu-01044656⟩

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