Evidence for multiple Plio-Pleistocene lake episodes in the hyperarid Atacama Desert

Ritter, B., Binnie, S. A., Stuart, F. M. , Wennrich, V. and Dunai, T. J. (2018) Evidence for multiple Plio-Pleistocene lake episodes in the hyperarid Atacama Desert. Quaternary Geochronology, 44, pp. 1-12. (doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2017.11.002)

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Cosmogenic nuclide exposure dating of ancient shoreline terraces of the Quillagua-Llamara Soledad Lake in the central Atacama Desert of northern Chile provides new insights in the paleohydrology of the driest desert on Earth. The lake developed in a paleo-endorheic drainage system in the Central Depression prior to draining into the Pacific due to incision of the Río Loa canyon. The durations of lake stages were sufficiently long to form wave-erosion induced shoreline terraces on the wind-exposed slopes of former islands. Successively younger shoreline levels are preserved over an elevation range of 250 m due to progressive uplift of the islands coeval with the lake stages. Cosmogenic 10Be- and 21Ne-derived exposure ages of the shorelines reveals that the hyperarid conditions in the Río Loa catchment were interspersed by several pluvial stages during the Pliocene and Pleistocene, which generated a large and persistent lake in the Quillagua-Llamara basin. The exposure ages of the final lake stage provide the maximum age for the incision of the Río Loa canyon (274 ± 74 ka) and the subsequent breaching of the Coastal Cordillera.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study was funded by the University of Cologne.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Stuart, Professor Finlay
Authors: Ritter, B., Binnie, S. A., Stuart, F. M., Wennrich, V., and Dunai, T. J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Quaternary Geochronology
ISSN (Online):1878-0350
Published Online:24 November 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V.
First Published:First published in Quaternary Geochronology 44:1-12
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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