Biogeochemical controls on diel cycling of stable isotopes of dissolved O2 and dissolved inorganic carbon in the Big Hole River, Montana

Stephen R. Parker, Simon R. Poulson, Christopher H. Gammons, Michael D. Degrandpre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rivers with high biological productivity typically show substantial increases in pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration during the day and decreases at night, in response to changes in the relative rates of aquatic photosynthesis and respiration. These changes, coupled with temperature variations, may impart diel (24-h) fluctuations in the concentration of trace metals, nutrients, and other chemical species. A better understanding of diel processes in rivers is needed and will lead to improved methods of data collection for both monitoring and research purposes. Previous studies have used stable isotopes of dissolved oxygen (DO) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) as tracers of geochemical and biological processes in streams, lakes, and marine systems. Although seasonal variation in δ18O of DO in rivers and lakes has been documented, no study has investigated diel changes in this parameter. Here, we demonstrate large (up to 13‰) cycles in δ18O-DO for two late summer sampling periods in the Big Hole River of southwest Montana and illustrate that these changes are correlated to variations in the DO concentration, the C-isotopic composition of DIC, and the primary productivity of the system. The magnitude of the diel cycle in δ18O-DO was greater in August versus September because of the longer photoperiod and warmer watertemperatures. This study provides another biogeochemical tool for investigating the O2 and C budgets in rivers and may also be applicable to lake and groundwater systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7134-7140
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume39
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 15 2005

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