Concentration-Discharge Relations in the Critical Zone: Implications for Resolving Critical Zone Structure, Function, and Evolution

Jon Chorover, Louis A. Derry, William H. McDowell

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Critical zone science seeks to develop mechanistic theories that describe critical zone structure, function, and long-term evolution. One postulate is that hydrogeochemical controls on critical zone evolution can be inferred from solute discharges measured down-gradient of reactive flow paths. These flow paths have variable lengths, interfacial compositions, and residence times, and their mixing is reflected in concentration-discharge (C-Q) relations. Motivation for this special section originates from a U.S. Critical Zone Observatories workshop that was held at the University of New Hampshire, 20–22 July 2015. The workshop focused on resolving mechanistic CZ controls over surface water chemical dynamics across the full range of lithogenic (e.g., nonhydrolyzing and hydrolyzing cations and oxyanions) and bioactive solutes (e.g., organic and inorganic forms of C, N, P, and S), including dissolved and colloidal species that may cooccur for a given element. Papers submitted to this special section on “concentration-discharge relations in the critical zone” include those from authors who attended the workshop, as well as others who responded to the open solicitation. Submissions were invited that utilized information pertaining to internal, integrated catchment function (relations between hydrology, biogeochemistry, and landscape structure) to help illuminate controls on observed C-Q relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8654-8659
Number of pages6
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • concentration-discharge
  • critical zone
  • stream chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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