Chemical weathering in the Krishna Basin and Western Ghats of the Deccan Traps, India: rates of basalt weathering and their controls

Das, A. ; Krishnaswami, S. ; Sarin, M. M. ; Pande, K. (2005) Chemical weathering in the Krishna Basin and Western Ghats of the Deccan Traps, India: rates of basalt weathering and their controls Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 69 (8). pp. 2067-2084. ISSN 0016-7037

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Rates of chemical and silicate weathering of the Deccan Trap basalts, India, have been determined through major ion measurements in the headwaters of the Krishna and the Bhima rivers, their tributaries, and the west flowing streams of the Western Ghats, all of which flow almost entirely through the Deccan basalts. Samples (n = 63) for this study were collected from 23 rivers during two consecutive monsoon seasons of 2001 and 2002. The Total dissolved solid (TDS) in the samples range from 27 to 640 mg l-1. The rivers draining the Western Ghats that flow through patches of cation deficient lateritic soils have lower TDS (average: 74 mg l-1), whereas the Bhima (except at origin) and its tributaries that seem to receive Na, Cl, and SO4 from saline soils and anthropogenic inputs have values in excess of 170 mg l-1. Many of the rivers sampled are supersaturated with respect to calcite. The chemical weathering rates (CWR) of "selected" basins, which exclude rivers supersaturated in calcite and which have high Cl and SO4, are in range of not, vert, similar3 to not, vert, similar60 t km-2 y-1. This yields an area-weighted average CWR of ~16 t km-2 y-1 for the Deccan Traps. This is a factor of ~2 lower than that reported for the Narmada-Tapti-Wainganga (NTW) systems draining the more northern regions of the Deccan. The difference can be because of (i) natural variations in CWR among the different basins of the Deccan, (ii) "selection" of river basin for CWR calculation in this study, and (iii) possible contribution of major ions from sources, in addition to basalts, to rivers of the northern Deccan Traps. Silicate weathering rates (SWR) in the selected basins calculated using dissolved Mg as an index varies between ~3 to ~60 t km-2 y-1, nearly identical to their CWR. The Ca/Mg and Na/Mg in these rivers, after correcting for rain input, are quite similar to those in average basalts of the region, suggesting near congruent release of Ca, Mg, and Na from basalts to rivers. Comparison of calculated and measured silicate-Ca in these rivers indicates that at most ~30% of Ca can be of nonsilicate origin, a likely source being carbonates in basalts and sediments. The chemical and silicate weathering rates of the west flowing rivers of the Deccan are ~ times higher than the east flowing rivers. This difference is due to the correspondingly higher rainfall and runoff in the western region and thus reemphasises the dominant role of runoff in regulating weathering rates. The silicon weathering rate (SWR) in the Krishna Basin is ~15 t km-2 y-1, within a factor of ~2 to those in the Yamuna, Bhagirathi, and Alaknanda basins of the Himalaya, suggesting that under favourable conditions (intense physical weathering, high runoff) granites and the other silicates in the Himalaya weather at rates similar to those of Deccan basalts. The CO2 consumption rate for the Deccan is deduced to be ~3.6 × 105 moles km-2 y-1 based on the SWR. The rate, though, is two to three times lower than reported for the NTW rivers system; it still reinforces the earlier findings that, in general, basalts weather more rapidly than other silicates and that they significantly influence the atmospheric CO2 budget on long-term scales.

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