• Concentration-Discharge Patterns Across the Gulf of Alaska Reveal Geomorphological and Glacierization Controls on Stream Water Solute Generation and Export

      Jenckes, Jordan; Ibarra, Daniel; Munk, Lee (2021-10-19)
      High latitude glacierized coastal catchments of the Gulf of Alaska (GoA) are undergoing rapid hydrologic changes in response to climate change and glacial recession. These catchments deliver important nutrients in the form of both inorganic and organic matter to the nearshore marine environment, yet are relatively understudied with respect to characterization of the sediment and solute generation processes and total yields. Using multiple linear regression informed by Bayesian Information Criterion analysis we empirically demonstrate how watershed characteristics affect suspended sediment and solute generation as represented by concentration-discharge relationships. We find that watershed mean slope and relief control solute generation and that solute yields are influenced most by glacier coverage. We contribute a new flux and concentration-discharge based conceptualization for understanding solute cycles across a hydroclimatic gradient of GoA watersheds that can be used to better understand future watershed responses to rapid hydrologic change.
    • Lithium Storage and Release from Lacustrine Sediments: Implications for Lithium Enrichment and Sustainability in Continental Brines

      Coffey, Daniel; Munk, Lee Ann; Ibarra, Daniel; Butler, Kristina; Boutt, David; Jenckes, Jordan (2021)
      Despite current and projected future reliance on lithium as a resource, deficiencies remain in genesis models of closed-basin Li brines. Subsurface geochemical interactions between water and bulk solid phases from lacustrine sediments, are shown here to be the most important process for brine genesis and sustainability of the Clayton Valley, NV brine deposit. A new subsurface basin model was developed and used to select Li-bearing solids to test the release mechanisms for Li. Ash (20-350 ppm Li) and bulk sediments (1000-1700 ppm Li) samples across depths in the basin represent the majority of the subsurface Li-bearing materials. Temperature dependent (25-95 oC) batch reaction experiments using low-salinity groundwater from the basin indicate a positive relationship between the amount of Li released and temperature. Four-step sequential extractions on a subset of bulk sediments indicate most Li is released from water and weak acid-soluble portions with approximately 30% of the total Li contained in the sediments released overall. We conceptualize that lithium is released from these samples via three mechanisms: 1) release of adsorbed Li; 2) cation exchange of Li and Mg and; 3) possible minor release from silicate structure at elevated temperatures. Based on these results and the abundance of Li-bearing sediments in the subsurface we estimate the mean Li mass in the basin materials to be between 24.4 to 58.0 Mt. This Li provides a continuous supply from water-rock interactions. This is now the largest known accumulation of Li in a basin-fill continental setting on a global scale.