Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 107–123

Hydrologic pathways and chemical composition of runoff during snowmelt in Loch Vale Watershed, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA


  • A. Scott Denning
    • Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State University
  • Jill Baron
    • Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State University
    • National park Service, Water Resources Division
  • M. Alisa Mast
    • United States Geologic Survey
  • Mary Arthur
    • Cornell University
Regular Section

DOI: 10.1007/BF00283175

Cite this article as:
Denning, A.S., Baron, J., Mast, M.A. et al. Water Air Soil Pollut (1991) 59: 107. doi:10.1007/BF00283175


Intensive sampling of a stream draining an alpine-subalpine basin revealed that depressions in pH and acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) of surface water at the beginning of the spring snowmelt in 1987 and 1988 were not accompanied by increases in strong acid anions, and that surface waters did not become acidic (ANC<0). Samples of meltwater collected at the base of the snowpack in 1987 were acidic and exhibited distinct ‘pulses’ of nitrate and sulfate. Solutions collected with lysimeters in forest soils adjacent to the stream revealed high levels of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and total Al. Peaks in concentration of DOC, Al, and nutrient species in the stream samples indicate a flush of soil solution into the surface water at the beginning of the melt. Infiltration of meltwater into soils and spatial heterogeneity in the timing of melting across the basin prevented stream and lake waters from becoming acidic.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991