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Article

Where Does the Chilean Aconcagua River Come from? Use of Natural Tracers for Water Genesis Characterization in Glacial and Periglacial Environments

1
Instituto de Geografía, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y Geografía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Valparaíso 2362807, Chile
2
Laboratory of Aquatic Environmental Research, Centro de Estudios Avanzados, Universidad de Playa Ancha, Viña del Mar 2581782, Chile
3
HUB Ambiental UPLA, Universidad de Playa Ancha, Valparaíso 234000, Chile
4
Laboratorio de Análisis Isotópico (LAI), Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Andrés Bello, Viña del Mar 2531015, Chile
5
Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales (IANIGLA-CONICET), Mendoza 5500, Argentina
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(9), 2630; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092630
Received: 1 August 2020 / Revised: 4 September 2020 / Accepted: 12 September 2020 / Published: 21 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Isotopic Data to Water Resource Management)
The Aconcagua river basin (Chile, 32 °S) has suffered the effects of the megadrought over the last decade. The severe snowfall deficiency drastically modified the water supply to the catchment headwaters. Despite the recognized snowmelt contribution to the basin, an unknown streamflow buffering effect is produced by glacial, periglacial and groundwater inputs, especially in dry periods. Hence, each type of water source was characterized and quantified for each season, through the combination of stable isotope and ionic analyses as natural water tracers. The δ18O and electric conductivity were identified as the key parameters for the differentiation of each water source. The use of these parameters in the stable isotope mixing “simmr” model revealed that snowmelt input accounted 52% in spring and only 22–36% during the rest of the year in the headwaters. While glacial supply contributed up to 34%, both groundwater and periglacial exhibited a remarkable contribution around 20% with some seasonal variations. Downstream, glacial contribution averaged 15–20%, groundwater seasonally increased up to 46%, and periglacial input was surprisingly high (i.e., 14–21%). The different water sources contribution quantification over time for the Aconcagua River reported in this work provides key information for water security in this territory. View Full-Text
Keywords: stable isotopes; water sources; natural tracers; glaciers; rock glaciers; groundwater; snow; Central Andes stable isotopes; water sources; natural tracers; glaciers; rock glaciers; groundwater; snow; Central Andes
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MDPI and ACS Style

Crespo, S.A.; Lavergne, C.; Fernandoy, F.; Muñoz, A.A.; Cara, L.; Olfos-Vargas, S. Where Does the Chilean Aconcagua River Come from? Use of Natural Tracers for Water Genesis Characterization in Glacial and Periglacial Environments. Water 2020, 12, 2630. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092630

AMA Style

Crespo SA, Lavergne C, Fernandoy F, Muñoz AA, Cara L, Olfos-Vargas S. Where Does the Chilean Aconcagua River Come from? Use of Natural Tracers for Water Genesis Characterization in Glacial and Periglacial Environments. Water. 2020; 12(9):2630. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092630

Chicago/Turabian Style

Crespo, Sebastián A.; Lavergne, Céline; Fernandoy, Francisco; Muñoz, Ariel A.; Cara, Leandro; Olfos-Vargas, Simón. 2020. "Where Does the Chilean Aconcagua River Come from? Use of Natural Tracers for Water Genesis Characterization in Glacial and Periglacial Environments" Water 12, no. 9: 2630. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092630

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