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Saturation indices of aqueous mineral phases as proxies of seasonal dynamics of a transitional water ecosystem using a geochemical modeling approach

Abstract

The geochemistry and saturation indices (SI) of carbonate and non-carbonate mineral phases under standard thermodynamic conditions in an aqueous environment are largely influenced by the dynamic physico-chemical parameters. Based on the known feedback mechanisms of environmental parameters on the rates of mineralisation, the changes in environmental parameters such as pH, dissolved ionic concentrations and salinity were modelled as a function of their spatial and temporal distributions (dry and wet seasons) in a transitional aquatic ecosystem in South India, Pulicat lagoon. The investigation revealed the strong seasonal influence of these parameters on the magnitude and values of the SIs signalling dissolution or mineralisation. Hydroxyapatite and Talc were found to have higher positive SIs. Co-precipitation of calcite and aragonite were evident and found to be constrained by high salinities. Among the carbonates, dolomites and magnesium-calcites showed high SIs compared to calcite and aragonite, indicating that magnesium ions were incorporated into the mineral phases possibly due to the availability of nucleation sites through heterotrophic reactions. The formation of apatite was strongly influenced by pH changes, corresponding to low calcite precipitation in the wet season. High SI of hydroxyapatite, talc and silicate minerals indicate the low bioavailability of dissolved phosphate and silicates in the water during both the seasons. Strong evidences of seasonal control of pH, salinity and Total Dissolved Solids on the dissolution and mineralisation characteristics further influence nutrient bioavailability over varied spatio-temporal scales. The present study supports the potential application of the saturation indices as proxies to understand the complex biogeochemical dynamics of transitional water ecosystems.

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Acknowledgements

The first author is grateful to Prof. Sudhakar Rao, IISc Bangalore for his comments at various stages of the work and during the preparation of this manuscript. Mr. Ananth Nag, Geoenvironmental laboratory, IISc and the analytical personnel at SID, IISc are acknowledged for their support during the analyses of the various physico-chemical parameters. The authors are grateful to Mr. Suresh Kumar (JNCASR, Bangalore) and Dr. Thulasiraman Natarajan (IISc, Bangalore) and students of Master’s programme from Anna University Chennai (2015–2017) and the fishermen at Pulicat town, Tamilnadu for their extensive support during the field sampling programmes. Review and suggestions provided by Prof. Hema Achyuthan at Institute of Ocean Management (IOM); Anna University have been very useful in improving this manuscript.

Funding

This work was supported by funds from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, under Grant “SR/WOS-A/ES-04/2014(G), Dt. 12.5.2015” as a part of the DST Woman Scientists (2015–2018) project.

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HS: planned and lead field survey, analysed environmental parameters, performed PHREEQC based modeling, conceived and wrote the manuscript. AK and MR Performed field survey, analysed environmental parameters and contributed to manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Harini Santhanam.

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Santhanam, H., Karthikeyan, A. & Raja, M. Saturation indices of aqueous mineral phases as proxies of seasonal dynamics of a transitional water ecosystem using a geochemical modeling approach. Model. Earth Syst. Environ. 7, 1813–1829 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40808-020-00910-x

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Keywords

  • Saturation index
  • Mineral phases
  • Calcite
  • Aragonite
  • Dolomite
  • Hydroxyapatite
  • Pulicat lagoon
  • PHREEQC