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Title: SEM-EDS and water chemistry characteristics at the early stages of glacier recession reveal biogeochemical coupling between proglacial sediments and meltwater
Authors: Stachnik, Łukasz
Yde, Jacob C.
Krzemień, Kazimierz
Uzarowicz, Łukasz
Sitek, Sławomir
Kenis, Piotr
Keywords: Glacier recession; Silicate weathering; Sulphide oxidation; Iron cycle; Scanning electron microscopy; Chemical denudation; Land-based glacier
Issue Date: 2022
Citation: "Science of the Total Environment", T. 835, 2022, art. nr 155383, s. 1-13
Abstract: Most glaciers worldwide are undergoing climate-forced recession, but the impact of glacier changes on biogeochemical cycles is unclear. This study examines the influence of proglacial sediment weathering on meltwater chemistry at the early stages of glacier recession in the High Arctic of Svalbard. Scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) in combination with a wide range of geochemical analyses were used in this study. The SEM-EDS analyses of sediments collected in front of Werenskioldbreen show general degradation of pyrite and carbonate grains with age. The outer parts of pyrite grains have a gradual decrease in sulphur and gradual increase in iron oxides due to pyrite oxidation. This process was less advanced in the proglacial zone younger than 100 years compared to older sites such as the terminal moraine from the Little Ice Age. In both the proglacial zone and the terminal moraine, physical weathering of mineral grains, including formation of microcracks and microfractures, clearly enhanced pyrite oxidation. A consequence of proglacial sediment weathering is that the river chemistry is strongly affected by carbonate dissolution driven by sulphuric acid from sulphide oxidation. Also, reactive iron oxides, a product of sulphide oxidation, are mobilized in the proglacial zone. The results of this study show that proglacial weathering in the High Arctic of Svalbard is strongly coupled to river geochemistry, especially during the early stages of proglacial exposure after glacier recession.
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155383
ISSN: 0048-9697
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