Hydrochemistry, soil chemistry and critical loads of selected upland moorland catchments, Scotland
This thesis presents precipitation, streamwater and soil chemistry from three upland catchments in Scotland situated upon granite parent material and receiving different deposition loadings. Marine ions are identified as important components of precipitation and streamwater at the two coastal sites (Bealach and Cardoon) and lesser importance at the inland site (Allt a'Mharcaidh). Similar ratios of Na:Ca:Mg in precipitation and streamwater indicate the importance of catchment hydrology and organic soils in controlling streamwater chemistry. Input/output budgets indicate SO4-S and H+ loss from the Cardoon (a region of high acid deposition inputs) compared with the other two less polluted sites which exhibit SO4-S and H + retention. The SO4-S loss from the Cardoon is also associated with a high DOC flux in streamwater. In all three catchments differences were found between published critical load values and those calculated as part of this study. Seasonal and annual variations in critical loads for freshwaters at all sites indicate sampling for the national mapping exercise does not reflect the most acid-sensitive periods. Streamwater was also more sensitive than standing waters, with lower critical load values. Soil critical load values were lower than published soil critical load values as well as freshwater critical loads calculated in this study. Inclusion of marine-derived base-cations in PROFILE calculations of soil critical loads increased values markedly (1 keq ha-1yr -1) at the 2 coastal sites. Soil critical load varied little between horizons, suggesting that the identification of hydrologically important mineral horizon was not important. Lowest critical load values for freshwaters were controlled by the organic horizons which are not considered in PROFILE calculations. The implications of the omission of organic horizons from critical load calculations for soil in upland catchments are discussed and the use of critical loads at a catchment based level addressed.