Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Geography and Geology

Document Type



Geochemical fluxes in aqueous studies are an essential component of research to understand weathering and changes in a hydrologic system. These data can indicate any discrepancies, outliers, or gradual changes in a water environment to gain information on pollutants, carbon cycles, biological input, etc. Glacial melt is the majority of the surface water present throughout the country. The melting amount is increasing with the temperatures, which can be monitored by the changes in geochemical flux during increased discharge in glacial rivers. A high-resolution data set of Sόlheimajökull Glacier in Iceland was used to determine how changing climatic conditions for the region affected glacial meltwater. This dataset was collected from October 3-5, 2019. Four sites were measured every two hours for six hours total. The four sites included the glacier tongue, a site half the distance to the proglacial lake, a site where the glacier feeds into the river, and a site about two km downstream. Temperature, pH, alkalinity, specific conductivity, turbidity, total dissolved solids, and total suspended solids were measured. Partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) were calculated. The fluxes in these parameters and historical data provide insight into how the glacier is responding to warming temperatures and affecting the landscape’s geomorphology and indicates how they may respond to continued warming. The results showed a pattern of continuous dilution of the measurements as precipitation increased throughout the sampling period. A slight, overall increase in DIC and pCO2 was also seen downstream from the glacier. Due to the precipitation, warmer waters could be releasing more CO2 and be indicative and higher erosion rates. The small dataset and unusual conditions only allow for limited interpretation.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Jason Polk, Ph.D.


Geochemistry | Geology | Glaciology | Hydrology