Subsurface Landscapes of Oxidation and Reaction in the Critical Zone
IPGP - Îlot Cuvier
Séminaires thème Système Terre
Penn State University
Water, gas, and biota interact with bedrock to create and maintain the mantle of altered material known as regolith within Earth’s critical zone. This mantle in turn nurtures human and non-human ecosystems and affects water flow and storage. However, our understanding of how regolith forms from bedrock is poor at best. Two features of regolith combine to make it difficult to develop successful quantitative models of weathering: the extreme heterogeneity of weathered materials and the coupled nature of chemical, physical, and biological regolith formation factors. In this talk I discuss the use of geochemical and geophysical tools to learn how the deep architecture of the critical zone – including the distribution of subsurface reaction fronts developed through weathering reactions – may control water storage and flow. The long-term goal is to stop treating the subsurface as a black box but to begin to understand how it acts as a (self-organizing?) system that we can understand and protect.