Glacial history of Tranquilo glacier (Central Patagonia) since the Last Glacial Maximum through to the present.

Friday, 19 December 2014
Esteban A Sagredo1, Paola S Araya1, Joerg M Schaefer2, Michael R Kaplan2, Meredith A Kelly3, Thomas V Lowell4 and Juan C Aravena5, (1)Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile, (2)Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States, (3)Dartmouth College, Department of Earth Sciences, Hanover, NH, United States, (4)Univ Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, United States, (5)Universidad de Magallanes, Gaia Antártica, Punta Arenas, Chile
Deciphering the timing and the inter-hemispheric phasing of former glacial fluctuations is critical for understanding the mechanisms and climate signals underlying these glacial events. Here, we present a detailed chronology of glacial fluctuations for Río Tranquilo glacier (47°S), since the LGM, including up to the present. Río Tranquilo is a small glacial valley located on the northern flank of Monte San Lorenzo, an isolated granitic massif, ~70 km to the east of the southern limit of the Northern Patagonian Icefield. Although Mt. San Lorenzo is located on the leeward side of the Andes, it is one of the most glacierized mountains in the region, with an ice surface area of ~140 km2. Geomorphic evidence suggests that during past episodes of climate change several small glaciers that today occupy the headwalls of Río Tranquilo valley expanded and coalesced, depositing a series of moraines complexes along the flanks and bottom of the valley. We used two independent dating techniques to constrain the age of the glacial history of the area. 10Be surface exposure ages from boulders located atop moraine ridges reveal that Río Tranquilo valley underwent glacial expansion/stabilization during at least the LGM (late LGM?), Late glacial (ACR and Younger Dryas) and Mid-Holocene. Within the Mid-Holocene limits, tree-ring based chronology indicates that Río Tranquilo glacier expanded during the Late Holocene as well. Our results are the first detailed chronology of glacial fluctuations from a single valley glacier, spanning the entire period from the (end of the) LGM up to the present, in southern South America. By identifying different glacial episodes within a single alpine valley, this study provides baseline data for studying the relative magnitude of the climate events responsible for these glacial events.