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Title: The Relationship Between Topography, Bedrock Weathering, and Water Storage Across a Sequence of Ridges and Valleys
Abstract

Bedrock weathering regulates nutrient mobilization, water storage, and soil production. Relative to the mobile soil layer, little is known about the relationship between topography and bedrock weathering. Here, we identify a common pattern of weathering and water storage across a sequence of three ridges and valleys in the sedimentary Great Valley Sequence in Northern California that share a tectonic and climate history. Deep drilling, downhole logging, and characterization of chemistry and porosity reveal two weathering fronts. The shallower front is ∼7 m deep at the ridge of all three hillslopes, and marks the extent of pervasive fracturing and oxidation of pyrite and organic carbon. A deeper weathering front marks the extent of open fractures and discoloration. This front is 11 m deep under two ridges of similar ridge‐valley spacing, but 17.5 m deep under a ridge with nearly twice the ridge‐valley spacing. Hence, at ridge tops, the fraction of the hillslope relief that is weathered scales with hillslope length. In all three hillslopes, below this second weathering front, closed fractures and unweathered bedrock extend about one‐half the hilltop elevation above the adjacent channels. Neutron probe surveys reveal that seasonally dynamic moisture is stored to approximately the same depth as the shallow weathering front. Under the channels that bound our study hillslopes, the two weathering fronts coincide and occur within centimeters of the ground surface. Our findings provide evidence for feedbacks between erosion and weathering in mountainous landscapes that result in systematic subsurface structuring and water routing.

 
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Award ID(s):
1331940
NSF-PAR ID:
10450189
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Volume:
126
Issue:
4
ISSN:
2169-9003
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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