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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Two major barriers hinder the holistic understanding of subsurface critical zone (CZ) evolution and its impacts: (a) an inability to measure, define, and share information and (b) a societal structure that inhibits inclusivity and creativity. In contrast to the aboveground portion of the CZ, which is visible and measurable, the bottom boundary is difficult to access and quantify. In the context of these barriers, we aim to expand the spatial reach of the CZ by highlighting existing and effective tools for research as well as the “human reach” of CZ science by expanding who performs such science and who it benefits. We do so by exploring the diversity of vocabularies and techniques used in relevant disciplines, defining terminology, and prioritizing research questions that can be addressed. Specifically, we explore geochemical, geomorphological, geophysical, and ecological measurements and modeling tools to estimate CZ base and thickness. We also outline the importance of and approaches to developing a diverse CZ workforce that looks like and harnesses the creativity of the society it serves, addressing historical legacies of exclusion. Looking forward, we suggest that to grow CZ science, we must broaden the physical spaces studied and their relationships with inhabitants, measure the “deep” CZ and make data accessible, and address the bottlenecks of scaling and data‐model integration. What is needed—and what we have tried to outline—are common and fundamental structures that can be applied anywhere and used by the diversity of researchers involved in investigating and recording CZ processes from a myriad of perspectives.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  5. Abstract

    The carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes from headwater streams are not well quantified and could be a source of significant carbon, particularly in systems underlain by carbonate lithology. Also, the sensitivity of carbonate systems to changes in temperature will make these fluxes even more significant as climate changes. This study quantifies small-scale CO2 efflux and estimates annual CO2 emission from a headwater stream at the Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research Site and Biological Station (Konza), in a complex terrain of horizontal, alternating limestones and shales with small-scale karst features. CO2 effluxes ranged from 2.2 to 214 g CO2 m−2 day−1 (mean: 20.9 CO2 m−2 day−1). Downstream of point groundwater discharge sources, CO2 efflux decreased, over 2 m, to 3–40% of the point-source flux, while δ13C-CO2 increased, ranging from −9.8 ‰ to −23.2 ‰ V-PDB. The δ13C-CO2 increase was not strictly proportional to the CO2 flux but related to the origin of vadose zone CO2. The high spatial and temporal variability of CO2 efflux from this headwater stream informs those doing similar measurements and those working on upscaling stream data, that local variability should be assessed to estimate the impact of headwater stream CO2 efflux on the global carbon cycle.

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  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  7. Biogeochemical properties of soils play a crucial role in soil and stream chemistry throughout a watershed. How water interacts with soils during subsurface flow can have impacts on water quality, thus, it is fundamental to understand where and how certain soil water chemical processes occur within a catchment. In this study, ~200 soil samples were evaluated throughout a small catchment in the Front Range of Colorado, USA to examine spatial and vertical patterns in major soil solutes among different landscape units: riparian areas, alluvial/colluvial fans, and steep hillslopes. Solutes were extracted from the soil samples in the laboratory and analyzed for major cation (Li, K, Mg, Br, and Ca) and anion (F, Cl, NO 2 , NO 3 , PO 4 , and SO 4 ) concentrations using ion chromatography. Concentrations of most solutes were greater in near surface soils (10 cm) than in deeper soils (100 cm) across all landscape units, except for F which increased with depth, suggestive of surface accumulation processes such as dust deposition or enrichment due to biotic cycling. Potassium had the highest variation between depths, ranging from 1.04 mg/l (100 cm) to 3.13 mg/l (10 cm) sampled from riparian landscape units. Nearly every solute was found to be enriched in riparian areas where vegetation was visibly denser, with higher mean concentrations than the hillslopes and fans, except for NO 3 which had higher concentrations in the fans. Br, NO 2 , and PO 4 concentrations were often below the detectable limit, and Li and Na were not variable between depths or landscape units. Ratioed stream water concentrations (K:Na, Ca:Mg, and NO 3 :Cl) vs. discharge relationships compared to the soil solute ratios indicated a hydraulic disconnection between the shallow soils (<100 cm) and the stream. Based on the comparisons among depths and landscape units, our findings suggest that K, Ca, F, and NO 3 solutes may serve as valuable tracers to identify subsurface flowpaths as they are distinct among landscape units and depth within this catchment. However, interflow and/or shallow groundwater flow likely have little direct connection to streamflow generation. 
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