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Journal Article

Evaluating dissolved inorganic carbon cycling in a forested lake watershed using carbon isotopes

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Aravena, R., Schiff, S. L., Trumbore, S. E., Dillon, P. J., & Elgood, R. (1992). Evaluating dissolved inorganic carbon cycling in a forested lake watershed using carbon isotopes. Radiocarbon, 34(3), 636-645. doi:10.1017/S003382220006392X.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0027-BFD7-9
Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) is the main acid buffer in forested lake watersheds in Canada. We used carbon isotopes (C-13, C-14) to evaluate the production and cycling of DIC in an acid-sensitive lake watershed of the Precambrian Shield. Soil CO2, groundwater and stream DIC were characterized chemically and isotopically. Soil CO2 concentration profiles reflect both changes in production and in losses due to diffusion. DeltaC-13 soil CO2 profiles (deltaC-13 values of -23 parts per thousand in summer, slightly enriched during the fall and -25 parts per thousand during the winter) are a reflection of the isotopic composition of the sources and changes in isotopic fractionation due to diffusion. Carbon isotopic composition (C-13, C-14) of the groundwater and stream DIC clearly indicate that weathering of silicates by soil CO2 is the main source of DIC in these watersheds. C-14 data show that, in addition to recent groundwater, an older groundwater component with depleted C-14 activity is also present in the bedrock. The carbon isotope pattern in the groundwater also implies that, besides the main springtime recharge events, contributions to the groundwater may also occur during late winter/early spring.