Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Ravazzolo, D., Mao, L., Escauriaza, C., Pastén, P., & Montecinos, M (2019)

Rusty river: Effects of tufa precipitation on sediment entrainment in the Estero Morales in the central Chilean Andes

Revista : Science of the Total Environment
Volumen : 652
Páginas : 822-835
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Rivers and streams continuously shape and reform their channels through the transport of sediment. One of the most important parameter used to assess this transformation is the threshold for incipient grain motion. To date, limited studies have reported that several biotic and abiotic factors can affect this parameter. However, the effects of tufa precipitation on sediment entrainment and dynamics are still unexplored. The Estero Morales is an Andean stream in Central Chile affected by the phenomenon of tufa precipitation during the winter. Along the wetted channels, tufa precipitate creates a thin solid layer that covers the sediments. A series of field surveys and flume experiments were conducted to analyze the effect of tufa precipitation on the initiation of motion and sediment dynamics. Along the wetted areas of the river, a portable dynamometer was used to explore the force needed to dislocate the grains affected by tufa precipitation from the surrounding sediments. Flume experiments were conducted to compare the incipient motion of sediment covered by tufa precipitation with unaffected sediment. Geochemical analyses were conducted to study the precipitate chemistry, mineralogy and texture. The results demonstrate that greater force is needed to move sediment particles affected by tufa precipitation compared to unaffected ones. In addition, lower sediment transport rates were measured on sediment affected by tufa precipitation, especially for the largest sediment size. These results could have important implications for studies concerning sediment dynamics and contaminant fate in the environment. Moreover, the results allow us to make some assumptions regarding the long-term role that tufa precipitation can play in rivers.Such analysis can help us to better understand and predict the changes in sediment transport rates due to tufa precipitation.