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The role of chemical weathering in the neutralization of acidic deposition

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Abstract

Chemical weathering of rocks and minerals is a key factor which mitigates acidic deposition and affects water chemistry. It supplies cations and alkalinity to the surface water, groundwater, ion-exchange complex, and vegetation in the watershed. The kinetics of chemical weathering have not been determined in the field, but based on laboratory experiments, the rate of weathering has a fractional order dependency on hydrogen ion and organic ligand concentration in bulk solution. Watersheds with the greatest degree of hydrologic and geologic sensitivity can produce only 200–500 eq/ha·yr of cations or alkalinity for export. This is equivalent to 100 cm/yr of precipitation with a pH of 4.3–4.6 or an annual sulfur deposition of 1.0–2.5 g S/m2·yr. When acid and sulfur deposition are greater than these levels, extremely sensitive lakes may become acidified. To illustrate this point, a simple steady-state model is applied to lakes in regions where acidification of lakes has been reported.

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Schnoor, J.L., Stumm, W. The role of chemical weathering in the neutralization of acidic deposition. Schweiz. Z. Hydrol 48, 171–195 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02560197

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