Temporal and spatial variability of stream water chemistry on Subantarctic Marion Island

  • M.-J. Stowe Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa
  • David William Hedding Department of Geography, University of South Africa, Florida, South Africa
  • Frank D. Eckardt Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa
  • Werner Nel Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa
Keywords: Major ions, hydrochemistry, time series, freshwater, sea salts


Concentrations of major ions in stream water from the Soft Plume River on Subantarctic Marion Island were measured. During the annual relief voyage, samples were collected daily over a 16-day period (21 April–6 May 2015) from three sites along the stream to better understand temporal and spatial variability of stream water chemistry on the island. The chemical composition of the stream is dominated by the sea salts Na+ and Cl. Mean solute concentrations for Na+ and Cl are 7 ± 0.58 and 12.5 ± 0.84 mg/L, respectively. The mean molar Na:Cl ratio for all samples is 0.86 ± 0.05, with a range from 0.71 to 0.99 (n = 47), and there is a strong, significant positive correlation between Na+ and Cl concentrations (r = 0.80; p < 0.001). These values are consistent with previous studies from Marion Island and other Subantarctic islands. Temporal variation in ion concentrations was small. The largest detected change was a decrease in most solute concentrations that coincided with two precipitation events. This decrease was largest at the highest altitude and the shallowest site, suggesting that there was more rainfall at this location. These findings confirm the dominance of the surrounding ocean as the main source of the island’s stream water chemistry and illustrate spatiotemporal patterns that provide an insight into mechanisms affecting their composition on Subantarctic Marion Island.


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How to Cite
Stowe M.-J., Hedding D. W., Eckardt F. D., & Nel W. (2019). Temporal and spatial variability of stream water chemistry on Subantarctic Marion Island. Polar Research, 38. https://doi.org/10.33265/polar.v38.3356
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