Tracing silicon cycling in the Okavango Delta, a sub-tropical flood-pulse wetland using silicon isotopes

Patrick Frings, Christina De La Rocha, Eric Struyf, Dimitri van Pelt, Jonas Schoelynck, Mike Murray Hudson, Mangaliso J. Gondwe, Piotr Wolski, Keotsheple Mosimane, William Gray, Jörg Schaller, Daniel Conley

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Chemical weathering of silicate minerals releases elements into solution whereas the neoformation of secondary minerals
works in the opposite direction, potentially confounding estimates of silicate weathering rates. Silicon isotopes (d30Si) may be
a useful tool to investigate these processes. Here, we present 82 d30Si measurements from surface waters, pore waters, biogenic
silica (BSi), clays, sand and vegetation from the Okavango Delta, Botswana, a freshwater sub-tropical, flood-pulse wetland.
Hydrologically, the Okavango is dominated by evapotranspiration water losses to the atmosphere. It receives an annual pulse
of water that inundates seasonal floodplains, while river baseflow is sufficient to maintain a permanent floodplain. d30Si in
dissolved silica (DSi) in surface waters along a 300 km transect at near-peak flood show a limited range (0.36–1.19&), imply-
ing the Delta is well buffered by a balance of processes adding and removing DSi from the surface water. A key control on DSi
concentrations is the uptake, production of BSi and recycling of Si by aquatic vegetation, although the net isotopic effect is
necessarily small since all BSi re-dissolves on short timescales. In the sediments, BSi d30Si (n = 30) ranges from
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-148
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geology


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