08 Dec 2020

08 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Mineral element stocks in the Yedoma domain: a first assessment in ice-rich permafrost regions

Arthur Monhonval1, Sophie Opfergelt1, Elisabeth Mauclet1, Benoît Pereira1, Aubry Vandeuren1, Guido Grosse2,3, Lutz Schirrmeister2, Matthias Fuchs2, Peter Kuhry4, and Jens Strauss2 Arthur Monhonval et al.
  • 1Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • 2Permafrost Research Section, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Institute of Geosciences, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • 4Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract. With permafrost thaw, significant amounts of organic carbon (OC) previously stored in frozen deposits are unlocked and become potentially available for microbial mineralization. This is particularly the case in ice-rich regions such as the Yedoma domain. Excess ground ice degradation exposes deep sediments and their OC stocks, but also mineral elements, to biogeochemical processes. Interactions of mineral elements and OC play a crucial role for OC stabilization and the fate of OC upon thaw, and thus regulate carbon dioxide and methane emissions. In addition, some mineral elements are limiting nutrients for plant growth or microbial metabolic activity. A large ongoing effort is to quantify OC stocks and their lability in permafrost regions, but the influence of mineral elements on the fate of OC or on biogeochemical nutrient cycles has received less attention. The reason is that there is a gap of knowledge on the mineral element content in permafrost regions. Here, we use a portable X-ray fluorescence device (pXRF) to provide (i) the first large-scale Yedoma domain Mineral Concentrations Assessment (YMCA) dataset (; Monhonval et al., in review), and (ii) estimates of mineral element stocks in never thawed (since deposition) ice-rich Yedoma permafrost and previously thawed and partly refrozen Alas deposits. The pXRF method for mineral element quantification is non-destructive and offers a complement to the classical dissolution and measurement by optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) in solution. This allowed a mineral element concentration (Si, Al, Fe, Ca, K, Ti, Mn, Zn, Sr and Zr) assessment on 1292 sediment samples from the Yedoma domain with lower analytical effort and affordable costs relative to the classical ICP-OES method. pXRF measured concentrations were calibrated using standard alkaline fusion and ICP-OES measurements on a subset of 144 samples (R2 from 0.725 to 0.996). The results highlight that (i) the most abundant mineral element in the Yedoma domain is Si (2739 ± 986 Gt) followed by Al, Fe, K, Ca, Ti, Mn, Zr, Sr, and Zn, and that (ii) Al and Fe (598 ± 213 and 288 ± 104 Gt) are present in the same order of magnitude than OC (327–466 Gt).

Arthur Monhonval et al.

Status: open (until 08 Feb 2021)
Status: open (until 08 Feb 2021)
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Arthur Monhonval et al.

Data sets

Yedoma domain Mineral Concentrations Assessment (YMCA) Monhonval, Arthur, Opfergelt, Sophie, Mauclet, Elisabeth, Pereira, Benoît, Vandeuren, Aubry, Grosse, Guido, Schirrmeister, Lutz, Fuchs, Matthias, Kuhry, Peter, and Strauss, Jens

Arthur Monhonval et al.


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Short summary
With global warming, ice-rich permafrost soils expose organic carbon to microbial degradation and unlock mineral elements as well. Interactions between mineral elements and organic carbon may enhance or mitigate microbial degradation. Here, we provide a large scale ice-rich permafrost mineral concentrations assessment and estimates of mineral element stocks in those deposits. Si is the most abundant mineral element and Fe and Al are present in the same order of magnitude as organic carbon.