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Sr, Nd and Pb stable isotopes of surface dust on U ¨ rümqi glacier No. 1 in western China

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Stable-isotopic ratios of strontium (Sr), neodymium (Nd) and lead (Pb) provide a means of identifying a geological source of substances and are used as tracers of elements in biological and geochemical processes. We analyzed these isotopic ratios of surface dust (cryoconite) collected on Ürümqi glacier No. 1, Tien Shan, China. The dust was separated chemically into five fractions (four minerals and organic matter), and the isotopic ratios of each fraction were measured. The Sr and Nd isotopic ratios in the fractions extracted with ultrapure water (saline minerals), hydrogen peroxide solution (organic matter) and acetic acid (carbonate minerals) were low and invariable, whereas those extracted by hydrochloric acid (phosphate minerals) and the residual fraction (silicate minerals) were higher. The difference was likely due to the original source of each fraction. The isotopic ratios of the surface dust collected from different sites showed no significant difference, suggesting that they were spatially uniform across the glacier. The isotopic ratios of the silicate fraction were closer to those of desert sand reported in China than those of the soil and bedrock around the glacier. This suggests that the silicate minerals on the glacier were derived from distant deserts. The isotopic ratios in saline, carbonate and phosphate fractions were also close to those of evaporites and apatite in that desert region, suggesting that these minerals were also derived from that source. The Sr isotopic ratios in the organic fraction were closer to ratios in the saline and carbonate fractions rather than the silicate or phosphate fractions and may therefore reflect the isotopic ratios of the elements when they are incorporated into living microbes on the glacier.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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