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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  10 Jun 2020

10 Jun 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Landslides as geological hotspots of CO2 to the atmosphere: clues from the instrumented Séchilienne landslide, Western European Alps

Pierre Nevers1, Julien Bouchez2, Jérôme Gaillardet2,4, Christophe Thomazo3, Laeticia Faure2, and Catherine Bertrand1 Pierre Nevers et al.
  • 1UMR Chrono-Environnement 16 route de Gray, 25000 Besançon, France
  • 2Université de Paris, Institut de physique du Globe de Paris, CNRS, F-75005 Paris, France
  • 3UMR CNRS/uB6282 Biogéosciences 6 Boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France
  • 4Institut Universitaire de France, 75231 Paris, France

Abstract. This study makes use of a highly instrumented active landslide observatory (9 years of data) in the French Alps, the Séchilienne slope. Using a combination of major element chemistry and isotopes ratios (87Sr / 86Sr, δ34S) measured in different water types of the stable and unstable part of the Séchilienne instability to assess the contribution of the different lithologies of the slope and the chemical weathering mechanisms. Chemical and isotopic ratios appear useful to characterize weathering processes and the origin of waters and their flowpaths through the massif. A mixing model allows us to allocate the different major elements to different sources and quantify the involvement sulfuric and carbonic acids as a source of protons.

As a consequence of the model, we are able to show that the instability creates favorable and sustained conditions for the production of sulfuric acid by pyrite oxidation by supplying reactive surfaces. We clearly identify the contribution of gypsum dissolution to the sulfate budget in the landslide. We are also able to refine the pre-existing hydrogeological views on the local water circulation and water flow paths in the instability but showing the hydrological connectivity of the different zones. Overall, our results show that the Séchilienne landslide, despite its role in accelerating rock chemical and physical weathering, acts, at a geological time scale (i.e. at timescales longer that carbonate precipitation in the ocean) as a source of CO2 to the atmosphere. If generalizable to other instable zones in mountain ranges, this study illustrates the complex coupling between physical and chemical erosion and climate. The study also highlights the importance of deciphering between sulfite oxidation and gypsum dissolution as a source of sulfate ions to rivers, particularly in mountain ranges.

Pierre Nevers et al.

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Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Pierre Nevers et al.

Pierre Nevers et al.


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