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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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The Cryosphere Discuss., 5, 2483-2521, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 Sep 2011
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). A final paper in TC is not foreseen.
A multi-parameter hydrochemical characterization of proglacial runoff, Cordillera Blanca, Peru
P. Burns1, B. Mark1, and J. McKenzie2
1Department of Geography, The Ohio State University, 1036 Derby Hall, 154 North Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210-1361, USA
2Earth and Planetary Science, McGill University, 3450 University Street, Montreal, PQ H3A 2A7, Canada

Abstract. The Cordillera Blanca, located in the central Peruvian Andes, is the most glacierized mountain range in the tropics. The study objective is to determine the spatial and topographic controls on geochemical and isotopic parameters in the Quilcayhuanca drainage basin. During the dry season of July 2009, surface water and groundwater samples were collected from the proglacial zone of the 90 km2 Quilcayhuanca basin which is 20% glacierized. The basin water samples (n = 25) were analyzed for pH, conductivity, major cations (Ca, Mg, Na, K, Fe(II)), major anions (F, Cl, SO4), nutrients (total N, total P, and Si), and stable isotopes of water (δ18O, δ2H). The valley's surface water is acidic (pH 3–4) and is dominated by Ca2+, Mg2+, and SO42−, the last of which is likely due to pyrite oxidation. Total P and total N show no trend with elevation down valley, while Si generally increases with decreasing elevation. Groundwater samples are differentiated from surface water samples by lower pH, specific conductance, and total P and higher Na+, K+, HCO3, Si, and δ18O. A two-component mixing model indicates that discharge from the watershed is approximately two-thirds surface water (mostly glacier melt) and one-third groundwater. The results were compared to data from the Rio Santa and indicate that this trend may persist at the regional scale.

Citation: Burns, P., Mark, B., and McKenzie, J.: A multi-parameter hydrochemical characterization of proglacial runoff, Cordillera Blanca, Peru, The Cryosphere Discuss., 5, 2483-2521, doi:10.5194/tcd-5-2483-2011, 2011.
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