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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 8(3)

Environmental geochemistry of recent volcanic ashes from the Southern Andes

Flavia Ruggieri A , Jose-Luis Fernández-Turiel A E , Julio Saavedra B , Domingo Gimeno C , Edmundo Polanco C and José Antonio Naranjo D

A Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Sole i Sabaris s/n, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain.
B IRNASA, CSIC, Cordel de Merinas 40-52, E-37008 Salamanca, Spain.
C Faculty of Geology, University of Barcelona, Marti i Franques s/n, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain.
D Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, Casilla, 10465 Santiago, Chile.
E Corresponding author. Email: jlfernandez@ictja.csic.es

Environmental Chemistry 8(3) 236-247 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EN10097
Submitted: 15 October 2010  Accepted: 10 January 2011   Published: 22 June 2011


 
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Environmental context. Explosive volcanic eruptions may have significant environmental repercussions for many Earth system cycles, particularly the water cycle. We investigate the potential contribution to local geochemical fluxes through water of five historical eruptions that occurred over a 20-year period in the Southern Andes. In all five cases, the major potentially toxic trace elements were arsenic, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, nickel, lead and zinc.

Abstract. The potential contribution to the local geochemical balance of five historical eruptions that occurred during the 20th Century has been investigated in the Southern Volcanic Zone (SVZ) of the Andean volcanic arc of South America (Lonquimay 1988, Hudson 1991, Copahue 2000, Llaima 2008, Chaitén 2008). These ashes were characterised by SEMEDX and XRD, and their potential released geochemical fluxes were examined using water and nitric acid batch leaching tests. Leachates were analysed by ICP-OES, ICP-MS and ISE. The major contents removed correspond to SO42– and Cl. The potential toxic trace element (PTTE) content was highly variable among the ash samples following this order: Chaitén > Copahue > Hudson > Llaima > Lonquimay. The trace elements with significant load in water batch leaching tests include Fe > F > B > P > Zn > As > Mn > Sr > Ba > Ti > Cu > Ni > Li > Rb > Co > Cr > Cd > Sb. Some of these elements (As, Cu, F, Mo, Ni, Pb and Zn) are included in the drinking water guidelines due to their potential toxicity and must be especially monitored in the environmental assessment of these ashfall deposits.

Additional keywords: Chaitén, Copahue, Hudson, leaching, Llaima, Lonquimay, Southern Volcanic Zone, trace elements.


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