Temporal dynamics of bio-available Si fluxes in a temperate forested catchment (Meerdaal forest, Belgium)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Silicon (Si) is a key element in global biogeochemical cycling and recent research has shown that changes in the biological component of the Si cycle may lead to more rapid variations in the land-ocean Si transfer than previously thought. The objective of this paper is to better understand the controls on temporal Si dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems, by studying Si fluxes from a small forested catchment in central Belgium. An intensive monitoring program (2008-2010) of dissolved and amorphous silica (DSi and ASi) concentrations and load patterns show that DSi concentrations are significantly lower during winter-spring periods than during summer-autumn periods. In contrast to what was found in other studies, seasonal dynamics in Meerdaal forest are not controlled by variations in biological uptake or temperature, but mainly by the more important supply of pore-water to the groundwater table in winter-spring periods. Analysis of seasonal and event fluctuations in stream water DSi concentrations showed that final stream water is a mixture of old, DSi rich water pushed out of the soil, and new, DSi poor water delivered by quick flow. The mixing of old and new water finally resulted in streamwater DSi concentrations responding only moderately to variations in discharge (near-chemostatic behaviour). We estimated the total DSi export from the system to be ca. 65.1 x 10(3) mol km(-2) year(-1). Because Si delivery is biologically regulated through an important Si cycle in the vegetation-soil continuum, an anthropogenic (e.g. agricultural expansion) or climatic disturbance of terrestrial ecosystems may alter both water residence times through shifts in hydrological regimes and the DSi chemical equilibrium concentration in soils. In turn, these perturbations will potentially alter long-term DSi and ASi inputs to aquatic systems.


  • Wim Clymans
  • Gerard Govers
  • Elisabeth Frot
  • Benedicta Ronchi
  • Bas Van Wesemael
  • Eric Struyf
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology


  • Silica cycle, Dissolved silica, Amorphous silica, Chemostatic behaviour, Runoff, Hysteresis, Deforestation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-291
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch