A Geostatistical Analysis of the Major Controlling Factors Affecting Stream Geochemistry in Taylor Valley, Antarctica
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University School of Earth Sciences. Shell Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Internships. 2008
In Taylor Valley, Antarctica, there are three closed-basin lakes that each have different chemistries. One lake is fresh (Lake Hoare), one is brackish (Lake Fryxell), and the other is hyper-saline (Lake Bonney). The fact that these ice covered lakes are of various ages and have been subjected to different histories, supports their chemical diversity. This study focused on another contributing factor to differences in lake chemistry, which is the source of the solutes from the streams. The streams come from glacial meltwater. These freshwater streams accumulate and transport ions, nutrients, and biomass as they flow during the austral summer. This creates a certain “fingerprint” for each stream. The goal of this study was to discern between the stream chemistry variance and find trends associated with these differences. I expected to see an east-west trend because the eastern side of Taylor Valley has younger soils. To demonstrate my results, I used chloride, alkalinity, nitrate and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP). Chloride is an excellent tracer because it is conservative. Alkalinity represents weathering of carbonates and silicates. N and P are essential nutrients for plant life and assist in explaining the algal mat distribution. Landscape position and age, the presence and absence of algal mats, and stream length had most significant impact on stream chemistry.
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