Are small mountainous tropical watersheds of oceanic islands important for carbon export?
1Equipe Géochimie des Eaux, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, IPGP, UMR 7154, CNRS, 75205 Paris, France
2Equipe de Géochimie et Cosmochimie, Université Paris-Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, IPGP, UMR 7154, CNRS, 75205 Paris, France
3Observatoire Volcanologique et Sismologique de Guadeloupe (OVSG) IPGP, UMR 7154, CNRS, Le Houëlmont, 97113 Gourbeyre, Guadeloupe (FWI)
4Equipe de Dynamique des Fluides Géologiques, Université Paris-Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, IPGP, UMR 7154, CNRS, 75205 Paris, France
*now at: Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, 442 Earth Sciences Building, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada
Abstract. In the tropic, the small watersheds are affected by intense meteorological events playing an important role on the erosion of soils and therefore on the associated organic carbon fluxes. We studied the geochemistry of three small watersheds around the Basse-Terre volcanic Island (FWI) during a four years period, by measuring DOC, POC and DIC concentrations. The mean annual yields ranged 8.1–15.8 t C km−2 yr−1, 1.9–8.6 t C km−2 yr−1 and 8.1–25.5 t C km−2 yr−1 for DIC, DOC and POC, respectively. Floods and extreme floods represent 45 to 70 % of the annual DOC flux, and more than 80 % of the annual POC flux. The DIC flux occurs essentially during the low water level, only 43 % of the annual DIC flux is exported during floods. The distribution of the dissolved carbon between the inorganic and the organic fraction is correlated to the hydrodynamic of rivers. During low water level and floods, the dissolved carbon is exported under the inorganic form (DIC/DOC = 2.6 ± 2.1), while during extreme floods, the dissolved carbon transported is mostly organic (DIC/DOC = 0.7 ± 0.2). The residence time of the organic carbon in Guadeloupean soils may vary from 381 to 1000 yr, and is linked to the intensity of meteorological events than the frequency of meteorological events. Looking at the global carbon mass balance, the total export of organic carbon coming from small tropical and volcanic mountainous rivers is estimated about 2.0–8.9 Tg C yr−1 for DOC and about 8.4–26.5 Tg C yr−1 for POC, emphasizing that these carbon fluxes are significant and should be included in global carbon budgets.