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Sulfur and oxygen isotope ratios in sulfate during an acidification reversal study at Lake Gårdsjön, Western Sweden

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The reversibility of acidification is being investigated in a full scale catchment manipulation experiment at Lake Gårdsjön on the Swedish west coast using isotopes as environmental tracers. A 6300 m2 roof over the catchment enables researchers to control depositional variables. Stable S isotope values were determined in bulk deposition, throughfall, runoff, groundwater and soil-extracted water during one year prior to and two years of experimental control. Data collected prior to experimental control suggest that the inorganic SO 4 2− pool within the catchment has a homogeneousδ 34S value of about+5.5‰. Sprinkling of water spiked with small amounts of sea-water derived SO 4 2− started in April 1991. Theδ 34S value of this SO 4 2− is around+19.5‰. Since April 1991, the SO 4 2− concentration in runoff has decreased by some 30%, however, theδ 34S value have increased by only 0.5‰. This suggests mixing of sprinkling water S with a large reservoir of S in the catchment. Oxygen isotopes in SO 4 2− suggest that less than one third of the SO 4 2− in runoff is secondary SO 4 2− formed within the soil profile. This is, however, no evidence for net mineralization of S. The SO 4 2− in runoff in the roofed catchment is a mixture of SO 4 2− previously adsorbed in the soil, mineralized organic S and SO 4 2− from the sprinkler water. Calculations based on isotope data indicate that the turnover time of S within the catchment is on the order of decades. Since SO 4 2− facilitates base cation flow, the acidification reversal will take a much longer time than concentration decreases of SO 4 2− would suggest.

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Mörth, C.-., Torssander, P. Sulfur and oxygen isotope ratios in sulfate during an acidification reversal study at Lake Gårdsjön, Western Sweden. Water Air Soil Pollut 79, 261–278 (1995).

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  • SO42
  • Isotope Ratio
  • Oxygen Isotope
  • Base Cation
  • Turnover Time