Analysis of meteorological data and water chemistry of Latir Lakes, Taos County, New Mexico, 1985-88

Water-Resources Investigations Report 93-4113

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Data were analyzed to determine the chemistry of atmospheric deposition and water of the Latir Lakes in Taos County New Mexico, from 1985 to 1988. The Latir Lakes consist of a series of nine paternoster lakes that range in altitude from 11,061 to 11,893 feet above sea level. The pH of wet precipitation generally ranged from 4.6 to 5.5 and the specific conductance of wet precipitation ranged from 1 to 18 microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius from December 1985 through September 1988. Snowpack chemistry data indicate a change in the specific conductance, pH, and alkalinity of the snowpack from month to month. The dominant cation in the snowpack is calcium, and the dominant anions are nitrate and sulfate. The samples having the smallest values of specific conductance generally did not contain measurable alkalinity. When the snowpack starts to melt in the spring, specific conductance of the entire snowpack decreases, consistent with the hypothesis that the initial fluid draining from the snowpack transports a large amount of dissolved material out of the snowpack. Water chemistries in the Latir Lakes are similar although specific conductance increases downstream from lake 9 to lake 1. Calcium is the dominant cation and the ions that produce alkalinity are the dominant anions. Concentrations of sodium, magnesium, chloride, and sulfate do not vary substantially from year to year or during the year in a particular lake. Alkalinity and calcium concentration, however, do vary from year to year and during the year. The pH of outflow from the Latir Lakes varies from lake to lake and from year to year. In 1986, the range in pH in the lakes was less than 1 unit in mid-June, but was greater than 2.5 units by late October. The pH generally was larger than 7.0 in all of the lakes and was as large as 9.9 in several of the lakes during the period of study. The pH of outflow water generally increases from early spring to late summer in the Latir Lakes, and snowmelt does not seem to cause the pH to decrease in the lakes. Depth profiles of selected lakes indicate that the dissolved-oxygen concentration approaches zero below the thermocline. This suggests biological oxidation of organic matter in the lower zones in these lakes. Because many organisms cannot live in water containing small dissolved-oxygen concentrations, large volumes of water in lakes 9 and 3 probably are not suitable for habitation during the summer months.

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Analysis of meteorological data and water chemistry of Latir Lakes, Taos County, New Mexico, 1985-88
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey ; USGS Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
vii, 129 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm. [PGS - 123 p.]