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The role of trace minerals in chemical weathering in a high-elevation granitic watershed (Estibère, France): chemical and mineralogical evidence

Abstract : We investigated chemical weathering in a high elevation granitic environment in three selected watersheds located in the Pyrenees (France). The sites were located on glacial deposits derived from similar Hercynian (∼300 Ma) granites characterized by the occurrence of zoned plagioclases and trace calcic phases (epidote, prehnite, sphene, apatite). The surface waters at those sites show high Ca/Na molar ratios (>1) which could not be explained by the dissolution of the major plagioclase (oligoclase) present in the rocks. The coupled approach of investigating stream water chemistry and the mineralogy and chemistry of rocks and soils allowed us to explore the role of the weathering of trace calcic minerals in calcium export at the watershed scale. The weathering of the trace calcic minerals which represent ∼ 1% of the total rock volume are responsible for more than 90% of the calcium export at the sites. Annual cationic fluxes (∼ 23.10 4 eq/km 2/yr) calculated for the Estibère watershed are among the highest reported for high elevation systems draining granitic rocks and ∼ 80% of this annual cationic flux can be attributed to the weathering of trace calcic phases. Calculations based on isotopic values ( 87Sr/ 86Sr) go in the same direction. Except apatite, the trace calcic phases appear to be mainly silicates, thus the type of chemical weathering observed in the Estibère watershed may have an influence on atmospheric CO 2 consumption by granite weathering. However, comparison with other watersheds draining granitic environments worldwide, and with the two other sites in the Pyrenees, indicate that the role of trace calcic phases is important in most young environments exposed to chemical weathering (e.g., high elevation catchments on glacial deposits). Other factors such as the date of glacial retreat, the physical denudation rate, the hydrological functioning of the watershed and the nature and structure of the soil cover are also important.
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Submitted on : Friday, April 15, 2022 - 1:50:32 PM
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Priscia Oliva, Bernard Dupré, François Martin, Jérome Viers. The role of trace minerals in chemical weathering in a high-elevation granitic watershed (Estibère, France): chemical and mineralogical evidence. GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA, 2004, 68, pp.2223-2243. ⟨10.1016/j.gca.2003.10.043⟩. ⟨insu-03642980⟩

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