Neogene fluvial landscape evolution in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert

Ritter, B., Stuart, F. M. , Binnie, S. A., Gerdes, A., Wennrich, V. and Dunai, T. J. (2018) Neogene fluvial landscape evolution in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 13952. (doi:10.1038/s41598-018-32339-9) (PMID:30224725) (PMCID:PMC6141514)

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Dating of extensive alluvial fan surfaces and fluvial features in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert, Chile, using cosmogenic nuclides provides unrivalled insights about the onset and variability of aridity. The predominantly hyperarid conditions help to preserve the traces of episodic climatic and/or slow tectonic change. Utilizing single clast exposure dating with cosmogenic 10Be and 21Ne, we determine the termination of episodes of enhanced fluvial erosion and deposition occurring at ~19, ~14, ~9.5 Ma; large scale fluvial modification of the landscape had ceased by ~2–3 Ma. The presence of clasts that record pre-Miocene exposure ages (~28 Ma and ~34 Ma) require stagnant landscape development during the Oligocene. Our data implies an early onset of (hyper-) aridity in the core region of the Atacama Desert, interrupted by wetter but probably still arid periods. The apparent conflict with interpretation that favour a later onset of (hyper-) aridity can be reconciled when the climatic gradients within the Atacama Desert are considered.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This project is affiliated to the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1211, funded by German Science Foundation (DFG).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Stuart, Professor Finlay
Authors: Ritter, B., Stuart, F. M., Binnie, S. A., Gerdes, A., Wennrich, V., and Dunai, T. J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 8(1):13952
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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