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The springs are the visible discharge of a regional groundwater body in the very low permeability Cordillera de la Costa, whose hydraulic conductivity decreases downward and flow is dominantly though fissures and storage in the low porosity rock matrix. Se discute el origen de las aguas que surgen en pequeños manantiales localizados en la costa hiperárida del norte de Chile a partir de un estudio hidrogeoquímico e isotópico, apoyado en consideraciones hidrodinámicas del flujo del agua subterránea.Las aguas de los manantiales son salobres a salinas, con valores de la conductividad eléctrica que varían entre 2 y 25 m S/cm.The Cordillera de la Costa corresponds to an extensive mountain range that stretches along the coastline of northern Chile. Geologic map of the Cordillera de la Costa in the Antofagasta Region; B.Its width is between 15 and 50 km and reaches an average altitude of 1,600 m (Fig. In general, the altitude of the Cordillera de la Costa increases from north to south and reaches the highest elevations, approximately 2,800 m a.s.l. In some parts, this mountain range rises abruptly from sea level, forming a cliff that can reach up to 1,000 m a.s.l. Elevation digital model of northern Chile showing the springs in the Cordillera de la Costa and location of the main geographic points mentioned in the text.Water composition has some similarity to seawater, which is due to atmospheric deposition being dominated by marine aerosol and the high salinity to intense concentration by evapotranspiration (evapoconcentration) of precipitation.Soluble salts deposited in the soil are dissolved and transferred to aquifer recharge when some of rare significant precipitations occur.El estudio de la composición química e isotópica (H) de las aguas revela que las precipitaciones que produjeron la recarga se registraron en condiciones más húmedas que en la actualidad.Su origen estaría relacionado con el emplazamiento de corrientes marinas cálidas frente a las costas del norte de Chile, posiblemente asociadas a la incursión de El Niño-Oscilación del Sur (ENOS).
The small flow is the result of current or past groundwater recharge despite the extreme aridity.
It is one of the driest regions of the world, containing areas whose average annual precipitation in many cases is less than 1 mm, which means long periods of extreme aridity and occasional rainfall events widely separated in time.
On the western slope of the Cordillera de la Costa some low discharge springs can be recognized.
Radiocarbon dating and preliminary groundwater hydraulic calculations indicate that these spring waters could be remnants of a more significant recharge in the Cordillera de la Costa than that produced today during the less arid period about 5,000 to 3,000 years ago.
The exception is Las Vertientes spring which is the only one that receives water transferred from the Central Depression.
Its eastern boundary is smooth and slopes gently toward the Central Depression, although in some places topographic breaks separate these two geomorphological units, which could correspond to faults (Chong, 1991). The six springs and the water well studied are located on the western slope of the Cordillera de la Costa (Fig. The physical characteristics of each one of these springs and the water well are presented in table 1, plus the rock types that dominate in the respective assumed recharge area.