Abstract

To evaluate the effect of tundra vegetation on limestone solution processes, the present study was carried out in a small basin in southwestern Ellesmere Island, N.W.T. A test reach was selected along the stream, and water samples were collected at regular intervals from a seepage point entering the reach, a soil water pit at the bottom of a vegetated slope along the test reach, and from the stream at the outlet of the reach. Hydrochemical characteristics of the samples were described by several measured and calculated variables including water temperature, pH, calcium and total hardness, bicarbonate concentration, equilibrium partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and indices of saturation with respect to calcite and dolomite. Throughout the growing season of 1975, all samples indicated higher concentrations in water hardness and in bicarbonate than those reported in nonvegetated areas of the Arctic. A rising trend was apparent in these data, with the concentrations reaching a seasonal maximum in late summer. These phenomena are attributed to the production of biogenic carbon dioxide, which increased the aggressiveness of the water. The partial pressure of carbon dioxide in soil water was directly increased by this process, while the addition of soil water to the stream caused noticeable downstream increase in partial pressure of carbon dioxide and a corresponding reduction in saturation with respect to calcite and to dolomite. The influence of vegetation was therefore very marked in both surface and in subsurface flows.

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