Chemical weathering and carbon dioxide consumption in a small tropical river catchment, southwestern India

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Aquatic Geochemistry


Studies done on small tropical west-flowing river catchments located in the Western Ghats in southwestern India have suggested very intense chemical weathering rates and associated CO2 consumption. Very less studies are reported from these catchments notwithstanding their importance as potential sinks of atmospheric CO2 at the global scale. A total of 156 samples were collected from a small river catchment in the southwestern India, the Payaswini–Chandragiri river Basin, during pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon seasons in 2016 and 2017, respectively. This river system comprises two small rivers originating at an elevation of 1350 m in the Western Ghats in peninsular India. The catchment area is dominated by biotite sillimanite gneiss. Sodium is the dominant cation, contributing ~ 50% of the total cations, whereas HCO3− contributes ~ 75% of total anions. The average anion concentration in the samples varied in the range HCO3− > Cl− > SO42− > NO3− > F−, whereas major cation concentration varied in the range Na+ > Ca2+ > Mg2+ > K+. The average silicate weathering rate (SWR) was 42 t km−2 y−1 in the year 2016 and 36 t km−2 y−1 in 2017. The average annual carbon dioxide consumption rate (CCR) due to silicate rock weathering was 9.6 × 105 mol km−2y−1 and 8.3 × 105 mol km−2 y−1 for 2016 and 2017, respectively. The CCR in the study area is higher than other large tropical river catchments like Amazon, Congo-Zaire, Orinoco, Parana and Indus because of its unique topography, hot and humid climate and intense rainfall.

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