DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5027/andgeoV33n2-a05

Relation of surface and underground waters in Chungará and Cotacotani lake districts, northern Chile: an isotopic study

Christian Herrera, Juan Jose Pueyo, Alberto Saez, Blas L. Valero-Garces

Abstract


Lake Chungará and Cotacotani lake districts are surface water bodies located to the northwest of Lauca Basin in the northern Chilean Altiplano. Surface and underground waters show low to moderate saline content and an electrical conductivity in the range of 48.7 to 3090 μS/cm. The lakes are related to a system of aquifers on the nearby volcano flanks and debris avalanche deposits of Parinacota volcano. On the basis of δ18O and δD isotopic composition and its correlation with the chloride content in Chungará and Cotacotani lake, spring, and Chungará river waters it is demonstrated that: a. Lake Chungará's waters show vertical and horizontal homogeneous isotopic composition, which indicates a good mixture of waters in the lake; b. an important part of the Cotacotani lake recharge feeding come from Lake Chungará, that flows laterally as groundwater; c. the groundwater that feeds the springs of the area has its main recharge in the spring-summer (October-March) precipitation. The high content of tritium (3H) measured in spring waters of the area suggested a very recent recharge (last decades) of the aquifer system. The application of lumped parameter models to interpret the water residence time in the aquifer indicates that the piston flow model shows the best fit to the isotopic composition of Chungará-Cotacotani groundwater.


How to cite this article Herrera, C., Pueyo, J., Saez, A., and Valero-Garces, B., 2010, Relation of surface and underground waters in Chungará and Cotacotani lake districts, northern Chile: an isotopic study: Revista Geológica de Chile v. 33, no. 2, p. 299-326., doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5027/andgeoV33n2-a05