High altitude, Andean wetlands, or bofedales as they are locally known, are important regulators of the local water balance and also play a key role in sustaining biodiversity. Nevertheless, there is almost no information regarding their hydrogeological structure and functioning. This paper aims to characterize the thickness of the alluvial filling of one peat-accumulating wetland in North-Central Chile using Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) to assess its role as a water reservoir. To develop a quasi-3D understanding of the peatland’s structure, four ERT profiles were conducted. Results highlight a conductive basin shape of the peatland, with a thicker interface downstream than upstream between alluvial materials and the underlying bedrock or rock screes. Those results allow the estimate of the water column (1000–3400 mm) within the peatland alluvial filling. The second objective is to better understand the water exchanges between the peatland and the streamflow using discharge measurements and water stable isotopes. Water and isotopes budgets highlight a streamflow loss towards the peatland groundwater reservoir at the end of spring season. In addition, ten δ18O and δ2H surveys were used to characterize the distinct wetland water sources and their temporal variations. A peatland conceptual model is proposed to connect groundwater, rock glaciers, snowmelt, and hillslope flows. Andean peatlands provide a pivotal control on water delivery downstream, and therefore, understanding their structure and function is important, because they are unique structures providing ecological services at high elevations.
Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus
- Cambio global y planetario
- Química ambiental
- Ciencias del agua y tecnología
- Procesos de la superficie terrestre