U-isotopes and weathering rates in watersheds of Araxa city, Minas Gerais State, Brazil

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Bonotto, Daniel Marcos

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Elsevier B.V.


This work was conducted at Araxa city, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. The aim was to characterize by different approaches weathering rates at six watersheds occurring there. The study area is well-known in the country due to economic and touristic reasons. Beginning in the 1960's and 1970's, nowadays huge mining activities for niobium and phosphate fertilizer exploitation by different companies are taking place there along with the use of natural mineral waters for health treatment, following a tradition that started in the 19th century for tuberculosis treatment. The dataset utilized in this investigation comprised results obtained in the analysis of distinct geochemical compartments, i.e. rocks, soils, bottom sediments, rainwater and surface waters from small hy-drographic basins. The waters of three catchments are extensively used by water-supply systems of Araxa city in order to meet the demand of this resource as a possible supply of drinking water for the local community. Hydrochemical (major and trace constituents) and radionuclides (U-238, U-234, and Po-210) analyses of rainwater and water bodies samples allowed estimates of the fluxes in each drainage. These fluxes were subtracted from rainfall deposition, yielding positive net values only for bicarbonate and U-isotopes as natural tracers in all watersheds, which allowed to calculate chemical weathering rates of 2.6-38.9 ton/km2yr (bicarbonate) and 0.09-19.8 ton/km(2)yr (U-isotopes). Physical weathering rates were obtained from Pb-210 data in bottom sediments and exceeded 200 to 1.3 x 105 times the chemical weathering rates evaluated by the U-isotopes approach, a finding compatible with others reported in literature but adopting a diverse conceptual framework. Thus, the development of all analytical protocols along this investigation permitted an integrated appraisal of distinct approaches applied to the same selected site, as well as a comparison of weathering rates with other values reported in the literature, improving the knowledge about this subject in Araxa city watersheds. The novel dataset reported in this paper constitutes an aid to the already existing number of weathering rates elsewhere, helping modellers engaged on predicting future landscape changes.



Hydrochemistry, Surface water, Hydrographic basins, Chemical weathering rate, Physical erosion, Araxa city

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Journal Of Environmental Radioactivity. Oxford: Elsevier Sci Ltd, v. 246, 15 p., 2022.