Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Limnogeology of Laguna Miscanti: evidence for mid to late Holocene moisture changes in the Atacama Altiplano (Northern Chile)

  • Blas L. Valero-Garcés
  • Martin Grosjean
  • Antje Schwalb
  • Mebus Geyh
  • Bruno Messerli
  • Kerry Kelts


Sedimentological, mineralogical and geochemical analyses of sediment cores from 9 m-deep, saline Laguna Miscanti, Chile (23 ° 44′S, 67 °46′W, 4140 m a.s.l.) together with high-resolution seismic profiles provide a mid to late Holocene time series of regional environmental change in the Atacama Altiplano constrained by 210Pb and conventional 14C dating. The mid Holocene was the most arid interval since the last glacial maximum, as documented by subaerial exposure and formation of hardgrounds on a playa surface. Extremely low lake levels during the mid Holocene appear consistent with lower effective moisture recorded at other sites along the Altiplano and in the Amazon Basin. Termination of this arid period represented a major shift in the regional environmental dynamics and inaugurated modern atmospheric conditions. The cores show a progressive upward increase in effective moisture interrupted by numerous century-scale drier periods of various intensities and durations that characterize a fluctuating late Holocene climate. In spite of chronological uncertainties, the major environmental changes seem to correlate with the available paleorecords from the region providing a coherent account of effective moisture variability in the tropical highlands of South America.

Key words

Atacama Holocene limnogeology South America paleoclimatology lake sediments 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blas L. Valero-Garcés
    • 1
  • Martin Grosjean
    • 2
  • Antje Schwalb
    • 1
  • Mebus Geyh
    • 3
  • Bruno Messerli
    • 2
  • Kerry Kelts
    • 1
  1. 1.Limnological Research CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical GeographyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.State Geological Survey, Lower SaxonyHannover 51Germany

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