A preliminary review of weathering rates in relation to their method of calculation for acid sensitive soil parent materials

S J Langan, M E Hodson, D C Bain, R A Skeffington, M J Wilson

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The release of base cations from chemical weathering is the fundamental process by which base cations lost through leaching or biological uptake are replenished. Soils with a high content of easily weatherable minerals will, in general, be readily able to neutralise incoming acidity and satisfy biological requirements through this supply of base cations from weathering. Conversely those soils with a low content of such minerals will be unable to buffer acid inputs or meet biological demands and will be vulnerable to acidification. It is evident therefore that an accurate estimate of the rate of chemical weathering is a prerequisite for any assessment of ecosystem sensitivity to acidification. The principal methods by which these calculations are made can be grouped into those based on element depletion in soil horizons calculated against a conservative element reference, catchment fluxes, laboratory studies and the use of mathematical models which utilise data from each of these sources. A review of the published data has been undertaken to determine if a systematic variation in weathering rates can be observed for a range of parent materials and/or methods used. Variations of 0.03-0.8 keg ha(-1)yr(-1) for K+, 0.0-1.0 keg ha(-1)yr(-1) for Na+, 0.01-1.39 keg ha(-1)yr(-1) for Mg2+ and 0.0-5.8 keg ha(-1)yr(-1) for Ca2+ were found. In general individual cation weathering rates determined from catchment fluxes, and also the model MAGIC, are dominated by Ca2+, with Mg2+ being the next most significant release rate. However it has not been possible to determine any other systematic variations due to the limited number of sites where weathering rate has been determined by more than one method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1081
Number of pages7
JournalWater, Air, & Soil Pollution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1995

Bibliographical note

© 1995 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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