Constraining Subsurface Structure and Composition Using Seismic Refraction Surveys of Proglacial Valleys in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Robin Lee Glas1, Laura Lautz1, Jeffrey M McKenzie2, Bryan G Mark3, Emily Alyssa Baker1, Caroline Aubry-Wake2 and Lauren Dorothy Somers2, (1)Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, United States, (2)McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, (3)Ohio State University Main Campus, Columbus, OH, United States
As tropical glaciers rapidly recede in response to climate change, the storage and discharge of groundwater will play an increasing role in regulating river baseflow, particularly during the dry season, when stream flow is currently sustained predominantly by glacial melt. Little is understood regarding the hydrogeologic processes controlling base flow characteristics of low-gradient proglacial valleys of the Cordillera Blanca in Northwestern Peru, which has the world's highest density of tropical glaciers. To better understand the processes of groundwater storage and discharge in proglacial meadows, we completed seismic refraction surveys in three representative valleys of the Cordillera Blanca range: the Quilcayhuanca, Yanamarey, and Pachacoto valleys. The locations of survey transects were chosen based on locations of previous sediment core sampling, GPR lines, and quantification of groundwater-surface water interaction derived from dye and temperature tracing experiments. The seismic surveys consisted of 48 vertical component geophones with 2.5 m spacing. Across the three representative valleys a total of 15 surveys were conducted, covering a distance of 1800 m in cross, down, and oblique-valley directions. Preliminary interpretation of the seismic refraction data indicates a maximum imaging depth of 16 m below land surface, and a transition from glacio-lacustrine sediments to buried saturated talus at a depth of 6 m in the Quilcayhuanca valley. The organic-rich glacio-lacustrine sediments in the Yanamarey valley have seismic velocities ranging from 300 to 800 m/s and are >16 m in thickness at mid- valley. Weathered metasedimentary bedrock in the Pachacoto valley was imaged at ~5 m below the valley surface, exhibiting a p-wave velocity of 3400 m/s. The knowledge of hydrogeologic structure derived from seismic refraction surveys will provide crucial boundary conditions for future groundwater models of the valleys of the Cordillera Blanca.