Biogeochemistry of stable Ca and radiogenic Sr isotopes in a larch-covered permafrost-dominated watershed of Central Siberia

Bagard, Marie-Laure; Schmitt, Anne-Désirée; Chabaux, Francois; Pokrovsky, Oleg S.; Viers, Jérôme; Stille, Peter; Labolle, François and Prokushkin, Anatoly S. (2013). Biogeochemistry of stable Ca and radiogenic Sr isotopes in a larch-covered permafrost-dominated watershed of Central Siberia. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 114 pp. 169–187.



Stable Ca and radiogenic Sr isotope compositions were measured in different compartments (stream water, soil solutions, rocks, soils and soil leachates and vegetation) of a small permafrost-dominated watershed in the Central Siberian Plateau. The Sr and Ca in the area are supplied by basalt weathering and atmospheric depositions, which significantly impact the Sr isotopic compositions. Only vegetation significantly fractionates the calcium isotopes within the watershed. These fractionations occur during Ca uptake by roots and along the transpiration stream within the larch trees and are hypothesised to be the result of chromatographic processes and Ca oxalate crystallisations during Ca circulation or storage within plant organs. Biomass degradation significantly influences the Ca isotopic compositions of soil solutions and soil leachates via the release of light Ca, and organic and organo-mineral colloids are thought to affect the Ca isotopic compositions of soil solutions by preferential scavenging of 40Ca. The imprint of organic matter degradation on the δ44/40Ca of soil solutions is much more significant for the warmer south-facing slope of the watershed than for the shallow and cold soil active layer of the north-facing slope. As a result, the available stock of biomass and the decomposition rates appear to be critical parameters that regulate the impact of vegetation on the soil–water system in permafrost areas. Finally, the obtained δ44/40Ca patterns contrast with those described for permafrost-free environments with a much lower δ44/40Ca fractionation factor between soils and plants, suggesting specific features of organic matter decomposition in permafrost environments. The biologically induced Ca isotopic fractionation observed at the soil profile scale is not pronounced at the scale of the streams and large rivers in which the δ44/40Ca signature may be controlled by the heterogeneity of lithological sources.

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