Reservoir theory for studying the geochemical evolution of soils

Simon Marius Mudd, Kyungsoo Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Linking mineral weathering rates measured in the laboratory to those measured at the landscape scale is problematic. In laboratory studies, collections of minerals are exposed to the same weathering environment over a fixed amount of time. In natural soils, minerals enter, are mixed within, and leave the soil via erosion and dissolution/leaching over the course of soil formation. The key to correctly comparing mineral weathering studies from laboratory experiments and field soils is to consistently define time. To do so, we have used reservoir theory. Residence time of a mineral, as defined by reservoir theory, describes the time length between the moment that a mineral enters (via soil production) and leaves (via erosion and dissolution/leaching) the soil. Age of a mineral in a soil describes how long the mineral has been present in the soil. Turnover time describes the time needed to deplete a species of minerals in the soil by sediment efflux from the soil. These measures of time are found to be sensitive to not only sediment flux, which controls the mineral fluxes in and out of a soil, but also internal soil mixing that controls the probability that a mineral survives erosion. When these measures of time are combined with published data suggesting that a mineral's dissolution reaction rate decreases during the course of weathering, we find that internal soil mixing, by partially controlling the age distribution of minerals within a soil, might significantly alter the soil's mass loss rate via chemical weathering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberF03030
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

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