Major ion chemistry of Renuka Lake and weathering processes, Sirmaur District, Himachal Pradesh, India
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Renuka Lake in the Lesser Himalaya, Himachal Pradesh is in a valley surrounded by mountains comprised of highly crumpled, shattered, crushed, folded and dislocated rocks consisting of carbonaceous shales–slates often pyrite-ferrous, limestone, quartzites, boulder beds, etc. A detailed and systematic study of the major ion chemistry of the lake, clay mineral composition of the bed and core sediments and the Pb210 isotope estimation in the latter was conducted. The chemistry is dominated by carbonate weathering and (Ca + Mg) and (HCO3 + SO4) accounts for about 90% of the cations and anions. The SO4 content is almost the same as the HCO3. The low contribution of (Na + K) to the total cations and the (Ca + Mg) and HCO3 data tends to indicate that silicate weathering has not been the potential source of major ions to the lake waters. This difference may be related to the increasing susceptibility to weathering of carbonate over silicate rocks exposed in the catchment and also seepage of water at the bottom. The high sulphate content in waters is derived from dissolution of pyrite-ferrous reduced black shales, which constitute a significant lithology in the catchment. The chemical index of alteration (CIA) value in core sediments is on an average 76, which is comparable with average shale (70–75) and the rate of sedimentation 3.3 mm/year based on measurement of Pb210, indicating a fairly high weathering rate in the catchment. Illite is the dominant clay mineral (52–90%) in the bed and core sediments, chlorite constitutes 7–48% and the kaolinite–chlorite mixed silicate layer is l–2%. This is consistent with the shale–slate, sandstone lithology in the valley.
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