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Opal-CT precipitation in a clayey soil explained by geochemical transport model of dissolved Si (Blégny, Belgium)

  • Engineering
  • IngéNierie
  • Hydrology
  • Groundwater
  • Computing & Technology :: Geological
  • Petroleum & Mining Engineering [C08]
  • Informatique & Technologie :: GéOlogie
  • IngéNierie Du PéTrole & Des Mines [C08]
  • Dissolved Si Export
  • Opal-Ct Precipitation
  • Geochemical Transport Model


Opal-CT precipitation controlling dissolved Si export Dissolved Si (DSi) exported by rivers are controlled by geological, hydrological and biological cycle processes [1]. The DSi concentrations measured in a river of an upstream catchment in eastern Belgium (Blégny, Land of Herve) don’t vary seasonally (6.91±0.94mgL-1; n=363). Si concentrations in pore water are often higher and vary more (8.65±3.65mgL-1; n=128). The decrease of DSi along the flowpath of water is due to sink processes, i.e. precipitation, adsorption or uptake by vegetation. As the DSi in the river does not show any seasonal variation, uptake by vegetation can be ruled out [1] whereas precipitation or adsorption can control the DSi drained by the stream water. This hypothesis is confirmed by XRD and DeMaster analysis. At 0.1m depth the soil is constituted of 62% quartz, 7% K-feldspar, 6% plagioclase, 3.2% carbonates, 18.9% Al-clay, 1.47% Kaolinite, 0.63% Chlorite and 0.2% amorphous Si, probably of biogenic origin. At 1.5m depth, the amounts of several minerals (35.8% quartz, 0.6% K-feldspars, 0.9% plagioclase, Al-clay 14.7%) drop drastically. Carbonates, chlorite and kaolinite are absent whereas 40.4% opal-CT appears. The precipitation of opal-CT controls the DSi export of this catchment. Development of geochemical transport model To descripe DSi export from a catchment a geochemical transport model is developped in HP1 which couples the water flux model Hydrus with the geochemical model PHREEQC [2]. Our model is based on the conceptual model developped in [3]. First results show different DSi export dynamics in the unsaturated zone than in the aquifer due to different pCO2 values and varying soil moisture conditions. Further development of the model will help to find out the reason of opal-CT precipitation in this setting. [1]Fulweiler, Nixon (2005) Biogeochemistry 74:115–130. [2] Simunek, Jacques, van Genuchten, Mallants (2006) JAWRA 42:1537-1547. [3] Ronchi et al. (2013). Silicon, 5(1), 115–133.

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