The Use of Strontium-87/Strontium-86 Ratios to Measure Atmospheric Transport into Forested Watersheds

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Science  21 Jan 1983:
Vol. 219, Issue 4582, pp. 289-292
DOI: 10.1126/science.219.4582.289


Strontium-87/strontium-86 ratios indicate the sources of strontium in samples of natural waters, vegetation, and soil material taken from watersheds in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. More than 75 percent of the strontium in the vegetation is ultimately derived from atmospheric transport and less than 25 percent from the weathering of the underlying rock. Much of the airborne strontium enters the watersheds by impacting on coniferous foliage, but deciduous foliage apparently traps little, if any, strontium-bearing aerosol. The strontium and presumably other nutrients are continuously recycled in a nearly closed system consisting of upper soil horizons, forest litter, and the standing crop of vegetation.