In 2015 and 2016, we travelled around the (sub)Arctic and collected lots of samples of glacial meltwaters and subglacial sediment. We are very happy the meltwater samples have served well to illustrate an exciting story of subglacial weathering and the silicon (Si) cycle seen through Si isotopes, by our great colleague and friend Jade Hatton from the University of Bristol.
In the new paper “Silicon isotopes in Arctic and sub-Arctic glacial meltwaters: the role of subglacial weathering in the silicon cycle”, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Jade combines existing glacial Si isotope data with new measurements from our samples and shows that glacial meltwaters consistently export isotopically light dissolved Si compared with non-glacial rivers. Si fluxes and δ30Si composition from glacial systems are not commonly included in global Si budgets and isotopic mass balance calculations at present. The review discusses outstanding questions, including the formation mechanism of amorphous silica and the export of glacial nutrients from fjords, and provides a much-needed contextual framework for the recent advances in our understanding of subglacial Si cycling and highlight critical research avenues for assessing potential future changes in these environments.
Hatton JE, Hendry KR, Hawkings JR, Wadham JL, Opfergelt S, Kohler TJ, Yde JC, Stibal M, Žárský JD (2019) Silicon isotopes in Arctic and sub-Arctic glacial meltwaters: the role of subglacial weathering in the silicon cycle. Proceedings of the Royal Society A 475:20190098 doi: 10.1098/rspa.2019.0098