Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 415-431

First online:

Use of chemistry and stable sulfur isotopes to determine sources of trends in sulfate of Colorado lakes

  • John T. TurkAffiliated withDenver Federal Center, U.S. Geological Survey
  • , Donald H. CampbellAffiliated withDenver Federal Center, U.S. Geological Survey
  • , Norman E. SpahrAffiliated withDenver Federal Center, U.S. Geological Survey

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The chemistry of lakes in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area (MZWA) and the Weminuche Wilderness Area (WWA) of Colorado has been monitored since 1985. The initial results indicate that changes have occurred in the chemistry of some lakes in both areas. Increased concentration of sulfate in lakes may be related to increased atmospheric depositon of sulfate or to changes of sulfate released by weathering and to changing dilution of sulfate by snowmelt. Stable S isotopes seem to be capable of separating the fraction of change in sulfate that is related to atmospheric and watershed sources. Because of the short period of record, it is not possible to determine whether the changes are part of a long-term trend or are merely natural fluctuations about some baseline.