Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 8, issue 3
Biogeosciences, 8, 597–620, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-597-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 8, 597–620, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-597-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  07 Mar 2011

07 Mar 2011

Global spatial distribution of natural riverine silica inputs to the coastal zone

H. H. Dürr1,2,3, M. Meybeck2, J. Hartmann4,6, G. G. Laruelle5, and V. Roubeix3,7 H. H. Dürr et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • 2UMR 7619 Sisyphe, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI), Paris, France
  • 3ESA (Ecologie des Systèmes Aquatiques), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
  • 4Institute for Applied Geosciences, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany
  • 5Department of Earth Sciences – Geochemistry, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • 6Institute for Biogeochemistry & Marine Chemistry, KlimaCampus, Universität Hamburg, Germany
  • 7Cemagref Bordeaux, Gazinet-Cestas, France

Abstract. Silica, SiO2, in dissolved (DSi) and particulate (PSi) form, is both a major product of continental weathering as well as an essential nutrient in terrestrial and aquatic systems. Here we present estimates of the spatial distribution of riverine silica fluxes under natural conditions, i.e. without human influence, to ~140 segments of the global coastal zone. Focussing on the construction of the DSi budget, natural DSi concentration is multiplied with discharge of rivers for each segment for documented basins and segments. Segments with no documentation available are estimated using clustered information based mainly on considerations of local lithology, climate, and lake retention. We approximate fluxes of particulate silica in various forms (PSi) from fluxes of suspended matter, calculated from existing models. Results have been established for silica fluxes, concentrations and yields for drainage basins of the different continents, oceans basins as well as coastal segment basins. For the continental surfaces actually draining into the oceans (exorheic regions, representing 114.7 million (M) km2), 371 M t y−1 of DSi and 8835 M t y−1 of PSi are transported, corresponding to a mean concentration of 9.5 mg l−1 and 226 mg l−1, and to a mean yield of 3.3 t km−2 y−1 and 77 t km−2 y−1, respectively. DSi yields exceeding 6.6 t km−2 y−1, i.e. >2× the global average, represent 17.4% of the global continental ice-free exorheic area but correspond to 56.0% of DSi fluxes. Pacific catchments hold most of the hyper-active areas (>5× global average), suggesting a close connection between tectonic activity and DSi fluxes resulting from silicate weathering. The macro-filters of regional and marginal seas intercept 33% and 46% of the total dissolved and particulate silica fluxes. The mass of DSi received from rivers per unit square area of various oceans ranges over more than one order of magnitude. When expressed per unit volume and when individual regional seas are considered this figure ranges over two to three orders of magnitude, an illustration of the heterogeneity of the land to sea connection.

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