Elemental and Mineralogical Composition of the Western Andean Snow (18°S–41°S)

Juan A. Alfonso, Raul R. Cordero, Penny M. Rowe, Steven Neshyba, Gino Casassa, Jorge Carrasco, Shelley MacDonell, Fabrice Lambert, Jaime Pizarro, Francisco Fernandoy, Sarah Feron, Alessandro Damiani, Pedro Llanillo, Edgardo Sepulveda, Jose Jorquera, Belkis Garcia, Juan M. Carrera, Pedro Oyola, Choong Min Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The snowpack is an important source of water for many Andean communities. Because of its importance, elemental and mineralogical composition analysis of the Andean snow is a worthwhile effort. In this study, we conducted a chemical composition analysis (major and trace elements, mineralogy, and chemical enrichment) of surface snow sampled at 21 sites across a transect of about 2,500 km in the Chilean Andes (18–41°S). Our results enabled us to identify five depositional environments: (i) sites 1–3 (in the Atacama Desert, 18–26°S) with relatively high concentrations of metals, high abundance of quartz and low presence of arsenates, (ii) sites 4–8 (in northern Chile, 29–32°S) with relatively high abundance of quartz and low presence of metals and arsenates, (iii) sites 9–12 (in central Chile, 33–35°S) with anthropogenic enrichment of metals, relatively high values of quartz and low abundance of arsenates, (iv) sites 13–14 (also in central Chile, 35–37°S) with relatively high values of quartz and low presence of metals and arsenates, and v) sites 15–21 (in southern Chile, 37–41°S) with relatively high abundance of arsenates and low presence of metals and quartz. We found significant anthropogenic enrichment at sites close to Santiago (a major city of 6 million inhabitants) and in the Atacama Desert (that hosts several major copper mines).

Original languageEnglish
Article number8130
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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