The Geochemistry of Englacial Brine From Taylor Glacier, Antarctica

TitleThe Geochemistry of Englacial Brine From Taylor Glacier, Antarctica
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsW Lyons, B, Mikucki, JA, German, LA, Welch, KA, Welch, S, Gardner, CB, Tulaczyk, SM, Pettit, EC, Kowalski, J, Dachwald, B
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Date Published03/2019

Blood Falls is a hypersaline, iron‐rich discharge at the terminus of the Taylor Glacier in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. In November 2014, brine in a conduit within the glacier was penetrated and sampled using clean‐entry techniques and a thermoelectric melting probe called the IceMole. We analyzed the englacial brine sample for filterable iron (fFe), total Fe, major cations and anions, nutrients, organic carbon, and perchlorate. In addition, aliquots were analyzed for minor and trace elements and isotopes including δD and δ18O of water, δ34S and δ18O of sulfate, 234U, 238U, δ11B, 87Sr/86Sr, and δ81Br. These measurements were made in order to (1) determine the source and geochemical evolution of the brine and (2) compare the chemistry of the brine to that of nearby hypersaline lake waters and previous supraglacially sampled collections of Blood Falls outflow that were interpreted as end‐member brines. The englacial brine had higher Cl− concentrations than the Blood Falls end‐member outflow; however, other constituents were similar. The isotope data indicate that the water in the brine is derived from glacier melt. The H4SiO4 concentrations and U and Sr isotope suggest a high degree of chemical weathering products. The brine has a low N:P ratio of ~7.2 with most of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen in the form of NH4+. Dissolved organic carbon concentrations are similar to end‐member outflow values. Our results provide strong evidence that the original source of solutes in the brine was ancient seawater, which has been modified with the addition of chemical weathering products.