Bickle, Mike J.; Bunbury, Judith; Chapman, Hazel J.; Harris, Nigel B W.; Fairchild, Ian J. and Ahmad, Talat
Fluxes of Sr into the headwater of the Ganges.
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 67(14),
Himalayan weathering is recognized as an important agent in modifying sea water chemistry, but there are significant uncertainties in our understanding of Himalayan riverine fluxes. This paper examines causes of the variability, including that of the seasons, by analysis of downstream variations in Sr, 87Sr, and major ions in the mainstream, in relation to the composition of tributary streams from subcatchments with differing geologic substrates.
Water samples were collected over four periods spanning the premonsoon, monsoon, and postmonsoon seasons. Uncertainties in the relative fluxes have been estimated, using Monte Carlo techniques, from the short-term variability of mainstream chemistry and the scatter of tributary compositions. The results show marked seasonal variations in the relative inputs related to high monsoon rainfall in the High and Lesser Himalaya, contrasting with the major contribution from glacial melt waters from the Tibetan Sedimentary Series (TSS) at times of low rainfall. Much of the spread in previously published estimates of the sources of Sr in Himalayan rivers may result from these seasonal variations in Sr fluxes.
The annual fluxes of Sr into the headwaters of the Ganges are derived from the three main tectonic units in the proportions 35 ± 1% from the TSS, 27 ± 3% from the High Himalayan Crystalline Series (HHCS), and 38 ± 8% from the Lesser Himalaya. The particularly elevated 87Sr/86Sr ratios characteristic of the HHCS and the Lesser Himalaya enhance their influence on seawater Sr-isotope composition. The TSS contributes 13 ± 1%, the HHCS 30 ± 3%, and the Lesser Himalaya 57 ± 11% of the 87Sr flux in excess of the seawater 87Sr/86Sr ratio of 0.709.
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