Environmental Geology

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 603–614 | Cite as

Seasonality of diel cycles of dissolved trace-metal concentrations in a Rocky Mountain stream

  • David A. Nimick
  • Thomas E. Cleasby
  • R. Blaine McCleskey
Original Article


Substantial diel (24-h) cycles in dissolved (0.1-μm filtration) metal concentrations were observed during summer low flow, winter low flow, and snowmelt runoff in Prickly Pear Creek, Montana. During seven diel sampling episodes lasting 34–61.5 h, dissolved Mn and Zn concentrations increased from afternoon minimum values to maximum values shortly after sunrise. Dissolved As concentrations exhibited the inverse timing. The magnitude of diel concentration increases varied in the range 17–152% for Mn and 70–500% for Zn. Diel increases of As concentrations (17–55%) were less variable. The timing of minimum and maximum values of diel streamflow cycles was inconsistent among sampling episodes and had little relation to the timing of metal concentration cycles, suggesting that geochemical rather than hydrological processes are the primary control of diel metal cycles. Diel cycles of dissolved metal concentrations should be assumed to occur at any time of year in any stream with dissolved metals and neutral to alkaline pH.


Diel, diurnal Metal, geochemistry, adsorption Arsenic, manganese, zinc Prickly Pear Creek, Montana, USA 



The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, and thank S.L. Gelinas, A.N. Johnson, C.A. Jones, J.M. Kilpatrick, and T.R. Wotan for field assistance. Critical reviews of early drafts of this manuscript by J.M. Leenhouts and B.R. Gray were greatly appreciated.

Supplementary material

esm.xls (74 kb)
(xls 74 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Nimick
    • 1
  • Thomas E. Cleasby
    • 1
  • R. Blaine McCleskey
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyHelenaUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyBoulderUSA

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