Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse     
Boschetti T., Cortecci G., Barbieri M., Mussi M. New and past geochemical data on fresh to brine waters of the Salar de Atacama and Andean Altiplano, northern Chile. In: Geofluids, vol. 7 (1) pp. 33 - 50. Wiley, 2007.
The paper deals with the major chemistry and stable isotopes (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, sulfur, strontium) of waters and solutes from the Salar de Atacama basin (Rio Pedro, Honar Creek and Laguna Chaxa) and Andean Altiplano (Laguna Miique and Laguna Miscanti). The water inflows of the Salar are chemically quite different, the Rio San Pedro being of Na-Cl type and the Honar Creek of Na-HCO3 type, in keeping with the sedimentary-evaporitic and volcanic nature of the catchment rocks respectively. The δ34S and δ18O values of sulfate and the 87Sr/86Sr ratio of strontium in the streams match those of drained rocks, whereas the δ13C values of dissolved carbonate are largely controlled by vegetation. The lagoons are evaporated meteoric water bodies, and the relative air humidity estimated from the slope of the isotopic evaporation line is in accordance with historical data on air humidity in the area. The Laguna Chaxa is Na-Cl rich, and its isotopic composition are consistent with a mixed sedimentary-volcanic provenance of sulfur and strontium solutes. The Laguna Miique is Na-SO4 rich, and its sulfate δ34S is nearly identical to that of Laguna Chaxa. The δ13C(HCO3) values are quite different in the Laguna Chaxa and Laguna Miique, with the former being notably enriched in 13C probably because of preferential uptake of 12C by the high biological productivity occurring in the lagoon. The limited set of new data is interpreted in the context of a much larger literature database. In particular, previous chemical data on inflows and brines in the Salar de Atacama were revisited, and compared with evaporation path models and mineral stability diagrams (boron, lithium and Mg-minerals) computed using updated software and thermodynamic databases. The modeling shows that the removal of boron and lithium from sulfate-rich brines possibly occurs, respectively, as ulexite and sulfate salts, and carnallite should be the final magnesium phase of the brine evolution.
URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1468-8123
Subject activity diagrams
evaporation path
isotope geochemistry
northern Chile
Salar de Atacama
western Cordillera

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