Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Guerra P., Simonson K., González C., Gironás J., Escauriaza C., Pizarro G., Bonilla C. and Pastén P. (2016)

Daily Freeze–Thaw Cycles Affect the Transport of Metals in Streams Affected by Acid Drainage

Revista : Water
Volumen : 8
Número : 3
Páginas : 27 pp
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Stream flow rates with seasonal, daily, or hourly cycles due to freezing and thawing can control downstream chemical processes by changing the mixing ratio of reactive flows. The extent of these hydrologic-chemical interactions has not been fully realized yet. This work explored the link between daily freeze-thaw cycles and the fate and transport of metals at a model stream impacted by acid drainage. We characterized hydrological and physicochemical parameters at the confluence between the Caracarani River (pH ~8.6) and the Azufre River (pH < 2), in northern Chile. Hourly water depth, temperature, and electrical conductivity monitoring coupled with pH and turbidity measurements revealed that maximum flow rates from thawing of the Azufre River induced characteristic daily drops in pH and turbidity. Shifts in pH controlled the precipitation and dissolution of arsenic-rich iron and aluminum reactive phases. Thus freeze-thaw processes are critical at streams receiving acid drainage where iron and aluminum phases form and are likely to impact the fate and transport of toxic metals in the system. This work highlights the importance of assessing the hydrological controls on flows and mixing ratios when studying the chemical reactivity and fate of contaminants at systems affected by acid drainage.