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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Hydrogeochemistry of Fe and Mn in small boreal streams: The role of seasonality, landscape type and scale

Bjorkvald, Louise; Buffam, Ishi; Laudon, Hjalmar; Morth, Carl-Magnus


Stream water from a stream network of 15 small boreal catchments (0.03-67 km(2)) in northern Sweden was analyzed for unfiltered (total) and filtered (< 0.4 mu m) concentrations of iron (Fe(tot) and Fe(< 0.4)) and manganese (Mn(tot) and Mn < 0.4). The purpose was to investigate the temporal and spatial dynamics of Fe, Mn and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) as influenced by snow melt driven spring floods and landscape properties, in particular the proportion of wetland area. During spring flood, concentrations of Fetot, Fe(< 0.4), Mn(tot), Mn(< 0.4) and DOC increased in streams with forested catchments (< 2% wetland area). In catchments with high coverage of wetlands (> 30% wetland area) the opposite behavior was observed. The hydrogeochemistry of Fe was highly dependent on wetlands as shown by the strong positive correlation of the Fe(tot)/Al(tot) ratio with wetland coverage (r(2) = 0.89,p < 0.001). Furthermore, PCA analysis showed that at base flow Fe(tot) and Fe(< 0.4) were positively associated with wetlands and DOC, whereas they were not associated during peak flow at spring flood. The temporal variation of Fe was likely related to varying hydrological pathways. At peak discharge Fetot was associated with variables like silt coverage, which highlights the importance of particulates during high discharge events. For Mn there was no significant correlation with wetlands, instead, PCA analysis showed that during spring flood Mn was apparently more dependent on the supply of minerogenic particulates from silt deposits on the stream banks of some of the streams. The influence of minerogenic particulates on the concentration of, in particular, Mn was greatest in the larger, lower gradient streams, characterized by silt deposits in the near-stream zone. In the small forested streams underlain by till, DOC was of greater importance for the observed concentrations, as indicated by the positive correlation of both Fe(tot) and Fe(< 0.4) with DOC (r(2) = 0.77 and r(2) = 0.76, p < 0.001) at the smallest headwater forest site. In conclusion, wetland area and DOC were important for Fe concentrations in this boreal stream network, whereas silt deposits strongly influenced Mn concentrations. This study highlights the importance of studying stream water chemistry from a landscape perspective in order to address future environmental issues concerning mobility of Fe, Mn and associated trace metals. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Published in

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
2008, Volume: 72, number: 12, pages: 2789-2804