We present glaciochemical data from a pilot study of two snow-pits from Quelccaya ice cap, Peruvian Andes. These are the first samples to be analyzed from Quelccaya for nitrate and sulfate by ion chromatography (IC), for nitrate-plus-nitrite, reactive silicate and reactive iron by colorimetry, and for sodium by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The 3 m pits used in this study represent a one year record of mass accumulation and the 29 samples collected provide the first glaciochemical data from this area which can be compared with glaciochemical studies from other locations.
Reactive iron, reactive silicate and sodium, and the profiles of >0.63μm microparticles from Thompson and others (1984) are coincident, suggesting that transport and deposition into this area of each species are controlled by similar processes. The common source is probably local, resulting from crustal weathering. In general, the reactive silicate values are lower than those observed in other alpine glacier ice. The highest sulfate and nitrate values were observed in the upper few centimeters of the snow-pit. Most of the sulfate concentrations were less than 3 μM and are similar to values obtained for fresh surface snows from Bolivia (Stallard and Edmond 1981). Since biological gaseous emissions are thought to be the major source of sulfur and nitrogen to the atmosphere over the Amazon basin, the sulfate and nitrate fluctuations may be due to seasonal biological input and/or seasonal shifts in wind direction bringing material to Quelccaya.
With only one exception, the colorimetric nitrate-plus-nitrite data were higher than the IC nitrate data. Unfortunately, the IC analyses were conducted 81 d after the colorimetric analyses. The difference between the two data sets could be attributable to the following: (1) the colorimetric technique may yield erroneously high results as suggested for polar ice by Herron (1982), (2) the IC technique yields erroneously low results due, in part, to the possible exclusion of nitrite concentrations, and/or (3) nitrite was lost via biological removal during the 81 d period before the IC analyses. If the IC data are correct, the mean nitrate value is 0.4μΜ (n = 29). This value is similar to those reported from pre-industrial aged polar ice (Herron 1982). If the colorimetric mean value (1.1 μM) is correct, it is similar to colorimetrically determined values from other high-elevation alpine ice (Lyons and Mayewski 1983).