Abstract

The major element and Sr isotope geochemistry of surface waters, bedrock, and river sands was investigated in the Raikhot watershed within the High Himalayan Crystalline Series (HHCS) in northern Pakistan. Mass-balance calculations of mineral-weathering contributions to the dissolved flux of ions from the watershed indicate that 82% of the HCO3 flux is derived from the weathering of carbonate minerals and only 18% is derived from silicate weathering, even though the bedrock is predominantly quartzofeldspathic gneiss and granite with only ∼1% carbonate in the watershed. This study demonstrates the importance of trace amounts of bedrock carbonate in controlling the water chemistry of glacial watersheds. We suggest that the flux of Sr with a high 87Sr/86Sr ratio in the major Himalayan rivers may be derived in large part from weathering of trace amounts of calcite within the largely silicate HHCS. Models that use the flux of radiogenic Sr from the Himalayas as a proxy for silicate weathering rates may, therefore, overestimate the amount of CO2 consumption due to silicate weathering in the Himalaya.

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