Tranter, M. and Brown, G. and Raiswell, R. and Sharp, M. and Gurnell, A. (1993)
A CONCEPTUAL-MODEL OF SOLUTE ACQUISITION BY ALPINE GLACIAL MELTWATERS
- Cite key
- Journal of Glaciology
- Solute acquisition by Alpine glacial meltwaters is the result of the coupling of different pairs of reactions, one of which usually involves dissolved gases. Hence, the availability of atmospheric gases to solution is an important control on the composition of glacial meltwaters. The chemical compositions of the two main components of the bulk meltwater, quick flow and delayed flow, are dominated by
different geochemical processes. Delayed flow waters are solute-rich and exhibit high p(C02) characteristics. The slow transit of these waters through a distributed drainage system and the predominance of relatively rapid reactions, such as sulphide oxidation and carbonate dissolution, in this environment maximize solute acquisition. Quick-flow waters are dilute, both because of their rapid transit through ice-walled conduits and open channels, and because the weathering reactions are fuelled by relatively slow gaseous diffusion of CO2 into solution, despite solute acquisition being dominated by rapid surface exchange reactions. As a consequence, quick flow usually bears a low or open-system p(C02) signature. Bulk meltwaters are more likely to exhibit low p(C02) values when suspended-sediment concentrations are high, which promotes post-mixing reactions. This conceptual
model suggests that the composition of both quick flow and delayed flow is likely to be temporally variable, since kinetic, rather than equilibrium, factors determine the composition.