Evaluation of Weathering Indices in Western River Sediments of Urmia Lake Basin

Document Type : Complete scientific research article


1 Ph.D. Student, Department of Soil Science, Urmia University

2 Department of Soil Science, Urmia University, Urmia, Iran


Background and Objectives: Rivers are delivery vehicles of soluble compounds and sediments eroded from upper reach to wetlands and lakes. Therefore, evaluation of weathering intensity opens new insight into upland erosion, anthropogenic and geochemical process. Weathering indices CIA and WIP have been extensively used for the study of soil genesis. Nonetheless, little information available on the weathering indices in Iran 's soil and sediments. Therefore, this study was conducted on sediments of seven main rivers of Urmia Lake basin with objective of evaluation of two weathering indices and influence of particle size distribution on the weathering process.
Material and Methods: In this study 34 composite sediment samples have been taken from seven main western rivers of Urmia Lake basin including: Nazloo Chai, Shahar Chai, Barandooz Chai, Ghadar Chai, Mahabad Chai, Simineh Chai and Zola Chai. The physical and chemical properties of sediment were determined with routine soil testing methods. Elemental analyses of sediment samples were determined using an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry. Major element oxides were measured by using a built-in program SUPERQ. Then the CIA and WIP indices were calculated. The analysis of data was carried out using correlation, principal component analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis.
Results: The major oxides in the studied sediments were silica, aluminum and calcium. The ratio of silica oxide (SiO2) to upper continental crust (UCC) for all the samples were less than 1 and varied between 0.57 and 0.84 indicating no dilution effect in the mineral transportation. Based on the major oxides component, the similarity among the different rivers was more than 65 and only in the Ghadar and Barandooz rivers the similarity is low because of the presence of MaO. The content of CaO had inverse significant correlation with SiO2, Al2O3, and Fe2O3 (with correlation coefficient between -0.62 to -0.67, P<0.001). The CIA and WIP values were varied between 50.1 to 82.6 and 42.4 to 66.2, respectively. Both indices had normal distribution, but WIP index had higher correlation coefficient with particle size distribution particularly D50 (r=-0.84, P<0.001). The CIA index showed lower significant correlation with D50 in comparison with WIP.
Conclusion: High concentration CaO and MgO in the river sediments may be due to the presence of calcareous rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and calcareous shales in the watersheds. High SiO2 and Al2O3 concentration in river sediments may draw a conclusion that lower silica weathering and enrichment of potassium feldspar in river sediments. High loading value of in the river sediments may be due to the presence of calcareous rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and calcareous shales in the watersheds. Overall, the CIA and WIP weathering intensity values in upper and lower reach sediments revealed high difference. However, in some rivers such as Mahabad Chai because of construction of dam for more than half century the pattern of weathering intensity was different. Based on the A-CN-K curve. The studied river sediment indicate weathering trend in parallel with the A-CN line, indicating the elimination of silicate minerals of Ca and Na from parent material. Weathering indices in particular WIP had higher correlation coefficient with particle size distribution and D50 and we can conclude a proper index for evaluation of weathering intensity in the sediments.


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