Special Issue "Weathering Processes in Cold Region: Questions, New Ideas and Approaches, and New Findings"

A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (17 March 2019)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Kevin Hall

Geography Dept., Rhodes University, South Africa
Website | E-Mail
Interests: rock decay; cold environments; thermal stresses; rock art decay; rock decay processes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

At the foundation of the problem, there seems to be three initial questions: Is weathering in cold regions different from anywhere else? Indeed, what comprises a 'cold region'? Given that, sensu stricto, weathering alone cannot produce landforms (exception: Thermal contraction cracks?), how does weathering interplay with transport to produce landforms? As we move forward in the 21st century we seem less and less bound by the old, well entrenched, concepts built on climatic foundations, coupled with an increase in meaningful data. Our concepts now seem to cross the old climatic boundaries (e.g., rocks in environments of cold air temperatures may have temperatures somewhat comparable to hot deserts) that were previously thought as inviolate. This, in turn, particularly when transport is included, raises questions as to whether many of the landforms, hitherto thought to exemplify a ‘cold region’, are indeed the product of that climate?

Thus, further questions arise: What processes take place now? When do those processes take place and what are their impacts (processes occurring in sequence with different degrees of effectiveness)? Are the present processes creating, maintaining, or destroying the landform? What are the time scales we are considering? Even the use of the term ‘cold climate’ leads to meaningful questions (the more so when we consider our nearby planets) such as: What is actually cold? Is it always cold? What is the role, if any, of that 'cold'? Throughout we are also challenged by the understanding (and timing) of the interplay between weathering and transport to create landforms. Meaningful data on rock temperatures have changed or challenged many of our long-cherished (data-free) notions and these data are now beginning to include rock moisture (and its chemistry), which further upsets old ideas (chemical weathering in the summer may play a large role); the recent addition of the biotic component further changes our interpretations. Basically, we are at an exciting stage of many more questions than than we have answers to.

Thus, as we move forward to a more holistic reconsideration of rock decay in an area of cold air temperatures and try to couple that with its interplay, in terms of both process and timing, of transport to create landforms, there is a need for new ideas, new data-based concepts, new weathering processes, a better understanding of time scales, and, perhaps, even a re-evaluation of the whole notion of 'cold region weathering'. Thus, a host of exciting questions, problems, and challenges need to be faced. Here, there is the opportunity to deal with some of these issues and to show new ideas and to provide new data. The challenge is given: Bring our understanding of weathering and landform thought to be related to cold regions in to the 21st Century!

Dr. Kevin Hall
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • cold region
  • weathering processes
  • transport
  • landforms
  • time scales

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Geochemical Processes Controlling Ionic Composition of Water in the Catchments of Lakes Saana and Saanalampi in the Kilpisjärvi Area of North Scandinavia
Geosciences 2019, 9(4), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9040174
Received: 14 March 2019 / Revised: 9 April 2019 / Accepted: 12 April 2019 / Published: 16 April 2019
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Abstract
The study focuses on chemical composition of stream and subsurface water in the catchments of two small arctic alpine lakes in the Kilpisjärvi area (northwest Finland). Differences and changes in chemical components of both water types are followed in order to detect spatial [...] Read more.
The study focuses on chemical composition of stream and subsurface water in the catchments of two small arctic alpine lakes in the Kilpisjärvi area (northwest Finland). Differences and changes in chemical components of both water types are followed in order to detect spatial variability and impact of environmental factors. To achieve this, ion compositions of subsurface water and streams were measured at 12 sites in the catchments of Lakes Saana and Saanalampi during four years (2008–2010, and again in 2017). In the Lake Saanalampi catchment, the salinity of stream water (7.0 to 12.7 μS·cm−1) corresponded to that of snow. In the catchment of Lake Saana, however, the conductivity in stream water was much higher (40 to 220 μS·cm−1), connected mainly to the increase of SO42 and less with Mg2+ and Ca2+ contents, especially in the western part of the Saana catchment. These results demonstrate that arctic conditions do not preclude intense chemical weathering where conditions are favourable. Although chemical composition of the soil fluid does not match the geochemical signal from the local soil, rock composition, especially the presence of pyrite, is the main controller of chemical weathering rates of the rocks on the area. This supports earlier views that the character of precipitation mostly controls water chemistry of local lakes in the Kilpisjärvi area. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Universal Shapes? Analysis of the Shape of Antarctic Tafoni
Geosciences 2019, 9(4), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9040154
Received: 11 February 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 2 April 2019
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Abstract
Using dimensional data from over 700 tafoni in Antarctica, this paper identifies how the dimensionless ratios of width/length (W/L) and depth/length (D/L) vary with tafoni length. The analysis suggests that these ratios do tend to converge to values that are similar to those [...] Read more.
Using dimensional data from over 700 tafoni in Antarctica, this paper identifies how the dimensionless ratios of width/length (W/L) and depth/length (D/L) vary with tafoni length. The analysis suggests that these ratios do tend to converge to values that are similar to those found for fragments produced by brittle fracture and fragmentation. Dividing the data into quintiles and deciles, it is possible to assess how tafoni size and shape change as tafoni length increases. Smaller tafoni do tend to have a rounder plan form which rapidly changes as tafoni length increases towards the W/L ratio of 0.67. It is suggested that initial tafoni development is limited by the conditions set out in a recent mathematical model of tafoni development. This model focuses on tafoni development through the interactions of variable rock strength and the varying concentration gradient of a corrosive agent. Erosion involves the removal of relatively small sections of rock and is analogous to a continuous erosional process. This model produces tafoni of relatively circular plan form. Above a certain tafoni length it is suggested that processes associated with brittle fracture begin to dominant the development and shape of tafoni. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Nanoscale Observations Support the Importance of Chemical Processes in Rock Decay and Rock Coating Development in Cold Climates
Geosciences 2019, 9(3), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9030121
Received: 21 February 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 9 March 2019
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Abstract
Conventional scholarship long held that rock fracturing from physical processes dominates over chemical rock decay processes in cold climates. The paradigm of the supremacy of cold-climate shattering was questioned by Rapp’s discovery (1960) that the flux of dissolved solids leaving a Kärkevagge, Swedish [...] Read more.
Conventional scholarship long held that rock fracturing from physical processes dominates over chemical rock decay processes in cold climates. The paradigm of the supremacy of cold-climate shattering was questioned by Rapp’s discovery (1960) that the flux of dissolved solids leaving a Kärkevagge, Swedish Lapland, watershed exceeded physical denudation processes. Many others since have gone on to document the importance of chemical rock decay in all cold climate landscapes, using a wide variety of analytical approaches. This burgeoning scholarship, however, has only generated a few nanoscale studies. Thus, this paper’s purpose rests in an exploration of the potential for nanoscale research to better understand chemical processes operating on rock surfaces in cold climates. Samples from several Antarctica locations, Greenland, the Tibetan Plateau, and high altitude tropical and mid-latitude mountains all illustrate ubiquitous evidence of chemical decay at the nanoscale, even though the surficial appearance of each landscape is dominated by “bare fresh rock.” With the growing abundance of focused ion beam (FIB) instruments facilitating sample preparation, the hope is that that future rock decay researchers studying cold climates will add nanoscale microscopy to their bag of tools. Full article
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