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On the significance of periglacial conditions in active mountain belts for chemical weathering processes : Insights from the Chayu area, SE Tibet

Ruan, X. ; Galy, A., Chemical Geology

On the significance of periglacial conditions in active mountain belts for chemical weathering processes : Insights from the Chayu area, SE Tibet

Ruan, X. ; Galy, A.

Chemical Geology, 2021, 585, 120581

Abstract :

Chemical weathering is a key player of the long-term (Ma) timescale carbon cycle. Weathering processes under alpine periglacial environment could be important during the Quaternary glacial-interglacial cycles, but such timescale is difficult to fully apprehend for the weathering impact on C cycles. The Chayu river catchment in SE Tibet spans a geographical gradient from a periglacial environment in the north to a monsoonal environment in the south and we have investigated the various chemical weathering along this climatological gradient. The lithology of the catchment is dominated by granitoid rocks. Due to the active tectonic activity and the periglacial environment, mass wasting deposits including landslide deposits, talus and rock glaciers are found in the catchment. In order to figure out the influence of mass wasting process on water chemistry, we sampled seepage water from the mass wasting deposits and nearby stream water for comparison. Cyclic input contributes 5.7 to 8.2% to the dissolved load of the water samples, suggesting the dominance of weathering contribution within this granitoid catchment. The contributions from sulfuric acid and carbonate to chemical weathering are estimated based on the elemental data and the oxidation of sulfide as the source of dissolved sulfate. In the monsoonal South Chayu, the K*/Si, Ca*/Si ratios of the bedrock landslide seepages are higher than the streams by 265% and 117%, respectively. Together with the high contribution of carbonate ( 80%) and sulfuric acid (20 to 40%), the results indicates that landslide deposits have strong influences on local water chemistry by processes identical to bedrock landslides of greywacke and carbonate lithology in active mountain belts, suggesting that the enhanced weathering by landslide process can apply to granitoid regions as well. In the North Chayu with periglacial environment, the chemistry of the seepages and streams are nearly identical, and are similar to the landslide seepage water in the south. Such result highlights the role of the periglacial critical zone without the influence of mass wasting deposits that possibly enhances chemical weathering. The high porosity created by repeat freezethaw cycles provides more fresh mineral surfaces for water-rock interaction. But, the low temperature and the partial availability of water, restricted to thaw periods, provide strong kinetic limitations that inhibit the silicate weathering. Such features of the alpine periglacial critical zone led to the preferential weathering of the most reactive mineral phases including calcite, sulfide, and the interlayer K+ of sheet silicates (biotite, chlorite), resulting in the characteristic periglacial water chemistry. The influence of periglacial environment on local water chemistry may apply beyond the North Chayu and may play an important role in modulating the chemical weathering within the transition between Quaternary glacial and interglacial period.

Voir en ligne : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2...




publié mercredi 3 novembre 2021