The spatial distribution of soluble salts in the surface soil of the Atacama Desert and their relationship to hyperaridity

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Title:Main Title: The spatial distribution of soluble salts in the surface soil of the Atacama Desert and their relationship to hyperaridity
Description:Abstract: We systematically investigated the spatial distribution of sulfates, chlorides, and nitrates in Atacama Desert soils in order to identify their relationship to long-term aridity gradients and to secondary redistribution and phase transformation. Thin surface crusts, powdery surface material and subsurface concretions from up to 40 cm depth were sampled along several latitudinal transects between 19.5 - 25°S and 68.5 - 70.5°W. The samples were characterized by total soil chemical analysis (ICP-OES and spectrophotometric analysis) complemented by XRD and thermogravimetric analysis to determine contents of chloride, nitrate, major elements along with gypsum and anhydrite abundance in Atacama Desert soils. Our results demonstrate that the spatial distribution of gypsum, anhydrite, halite, and nitrates in Atacama Desert soils is indeed linked to aridity gradients, but also sources, and secondary dissolution processes. Nitrates and chlorides are best preserved between 19 - 22°S, which thus may constitute the long-term hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert. Remobilization within the soil is ubiquitous south of 22°S, but generally also occurs on the debris fans prograding from the Precordillera into the Central Depression. A near-constant concentration ratio of Na/Cl = 0.83 – very similar to the sea water ratio – throughout the desert and concentration maxima within the reaches of coastal fog penetration below the altitude of 1200 m reveals that sea spray is the primary source of halite in Atacama Desert soils. Calcium sulfates dominate Atacama Desert soils. Deposition is primarily as gypsum, but anhydrite is abundant in the northern Central Depression between 19 - 22°S. The apparent association of anhydrite with high concentrations of nitrate and chloride may point to a formation by dissolution and secondary reprecipitation from salt-concentrated fluids. The predominance of anhydrite in the Central Depression suggest geomorphology and water availability as additional factors remaining to be determined.
Responsible Party
Creators:Claudia Voigt (Author), Swea Klipsch (Author), Daniel Herwartz (Author), Guillermo Chong (Author), Michael Staubwasser (Author)
Funding Reference:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG): CRC 1211: Earth - Evolution at the Dry Limit
Publisher:Elsevier
Publication Year:2019
Topic
CRC1211 Topic:Climate
Related Subproject:D3
Subjects:Keywords: Arid Zone, Soil Sciences
Geogr. Information Topic:Environment
File Details
Filename:Voigt_et_al_2020.pdf
Data Type:Text - Article
File Size:3.7 MB
Date:Available: 06.11.2019
Mime Type:application/pdf
Data Format:PDF
Language:English
Status:Completed
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Download Permission:Only Project Members
General Access and Use Conditions:According to the CRC1211DB data policy agreement.
Access Limitations:According to the CRC1211DB data policy agreement.
Licence:[Creative Commons] Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
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Specific Information - Publication
Publication Status:Published
Review Status:Peer reviewed
Publication Type:Article
Article Type:Journal
Source:Global and Planetary Change
Volume:184
Number of Pages:13 (1 - 13)
Metadata Details
Metadata Creator:Claudia Voigt
Metadata Created:18.12.2019
Metadata Last Updated:18.12.2019
Subproject:D3
Funding Phase:1
Metadata Language:English
Metadata Version:V50
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