Articles | Volume 17, issue 11
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 4641–4657, 2013
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 4641–4657, 2013

Research article 26 Nov 2013

Research article | 26 Nov 2013

Pertinent spatio-temporal scale of observation to understand suspended sediment yield control factors in the Andean region: the case of the Santa River (Peru)

S. B. Morera1,2,3, T. Condom4, P. Vauchel5, J.-L. Guyot6, C. Galvez7, and A. Crave8 S. B. Morera et al.
  • 1Geosciences Environnement Toulouse, 14 avenue Edouard-Belin, Toulouse, France
  • 2Instituto Geofísico del Perú, Calle Badajoz # 169 – Ate Vitarte, Lima 3, Peru
  • 3Universidad Agraria La Molina, Av. Universidad s/n, La Molina, Lima 12, Peru
  • 4Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, LTHE (UMR5564), 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 5Laboratoire des Mécanismes de Transferts en Géologie – UMR5563 CNRS-UPS-IRD, Toulouse, France
  • 6Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Lima, Peru
  • 7Proyecto especial CHAVIMOCHIC, Trujillo, Peru
  • 8Geosciences Rennes, Centre National of Research Scientific, Rennes, France

Abstract. Hydro-sedimentology development is a great challenge in Peru due to limited data as well as sparse and confidential information. This study aimed to quantify and to understand the suspended sediment yield from the west-central Andes Mountains and to identify the main erosion-control factors and their relevance. The Tablachaca River (3132 km2) and the Santa River (6815 km2), located in two adjacent Andes catchments, showed similar statistical daily rainfall and discharge variability but large differences in specific suspended-sediment yield (SSY). In order to investigate the main erosion factors, daily water discharge and suspended sediment concentration (SSC) datasets of the Santa and Tablachaca rivers were analysed.

Mining activity in specific lithologies was identified as the major factor that controls the high SSY of the Tablachaca (2204 t km2 yr−1), which is four times greater than the Santa's SSY. These results show that the analysis of control factors of regional SSY at the Andes scale should be done carefully. Indeed, spatial data at kilometric scale and also daily water discharge and SSC time series are needed to define the main erosion factors along the entire Andean range.