Ca/Sr and 87Sr/86Sr ratios as tracers of Ca and Sr cycling in the Rio Icacos watershed, Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico

Julie C. Pett-Ridge, Louis A. Derry, Jenna K. Barrows
Ca/Sr and 87Sr/86Sr ratios as tracers of Ca and Sr cycling in the Rio Icacos watershed, Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico
Chemical Geology (2009)
Volume: 267, Issue: 1-2, Publisher: Elsevier B.V., Pages: 32-45

Abstract: 
We investigated Ca and Sr cycling in a humid tropical forest by analyzing Ca/Sr ratios and 87Sr/86Sr ratios in soil minerals, soil exchangeable cations, soil porewater, and plant roots, wood and leaves, and calculating the relative contributions of Sr from atmospheric inputs and weathering of local bedrock. An unexpectedly large contribution of bedrock-derived Sr and presumably Ca is cycled through the vegetation, re!ecting the important role of geological processes in controlling the cycling of base cation nutrients even in a system with intensely weathered soil. This is surprising because over 99% of the Ca and Sr that was originally in the bedrock is leached out of the soil and saprolite during early stages of weathering at this site, and because there are large atmospheric inputs to the site of both sea salt and Saharan dust. Substantial differences in Ca and Sr cycling are seen on small spatial scales between a ridgetop and an adjacent steep hillslope site. Measured Ca/Sr ratios re!ect fractionation between these elements during biogeochemical cycling. Fractionation was particularly evident between wood and foliar tissue, but fractionation during soil exchange processes is also likely. In comparing the Ca/Sr ratios of plants, exchangeable cations, and bulk soils, we found that foliar Ca/Sr ratios were greater than exchangeable cation Ca/Sr ratios, which in turn were greater than soil Ca/Sr ratios, similar to patterns observed at other highly weathered tropical sites.