Documenting 35 Years of Land Cover Change: Lago Cachet Dos Drainage, Chile

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Beverly Friesen1, David Nimick2, Daniel McGrath3 and Christopher Cole1, (1)USGS, Special Applications Science Center, Denver, CO, United States, (2)USGS, WY - MT Water Science Center, Helena, MT, United States, (3)USGS Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK, United States
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Special Applications Science Center is monitoring temporal changes at the Colonia Glacier and Lago Cachet Dos, Northern Patagonia Icefield of southern Chile. This location is one of the newest international sites in the USGS Global Fiducial Program (GFP)—a program which provides systematic monitoring of dynamic and environmentally critical areas with high-resolution imagery (http://gfp.usgs.gov/). In 2008, Lago Cachet Dos began experiencing glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) during which the entire pool of water (about 200 million m3) rapidly drains from the lake and flows south-southeast through the Colonia Glacier. These catastrophic events cause massive erosion of lake-bed and valley-fill deposits, and consequent upstream expansion of Lago Cachet Dos towards Lago Cachet Uno. Panchromatic and multispectral images for 1979, 2007, and 2014 highlight the dramatic changes that have occurred at this site over a 35-year period. The lake was smallest in 1979, when the Colonia Glacier was at its maximum thickness and extent during the study period. Between 1979 and 2007, the glacier shrank causing an increase in the surface area of the lake. The size of the lake increased substantially, from 2.98 km2 in 1979 to 4.41 km2 in 2014, primarily due to erosion of valley-fill deposits at its northern edge by the 15 GLOFs that occurred between April 2008 and February 2014. Ongoing studies of the Colonia Glacier and Lago Cachet Dos are focused on providing real-time monitoring of Lago Cachet Dos lake levels, understanding the history of advances and retreats of the Colonia Glacier, and determining the physical mechanisms and hazards associated with the GLOFs that come from Lago Cachet Dos.