International Journal of Salt Lake Research

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 281–300 | Cite as

Lake levels in the southern Bolivian Altiplano (19°–21°S.) during the Late Glacial based on diatom studies

  • Florence Sylvestre
  • Simone Servant-Vildary
  • Marc Fournier
  • Michel Servant


This study is focused on the endorheic Uyni-Coipasa Basin located in the southern Bolivian Altiplano. Stratigraphical and fossil diatom studies based on a detailed radiocarbon chrnology revealed six phases in water-level changes and paleosalinity variations. At 15,430±80 yr B.P., lacustrine conditions settled in the southern Bolivian Altiplano. A saline lake, characterized by benthic meso-metasaline species, reached ∼+4 m altitude above the present bottom of the basin. After 15,430±80 yr B.P., the level rapidly rose to ∼+27 m, as suggested by a tychoplanktonic mesosaline flora. Between ∼14,500 years and ∼13,000 years, finely lanminated sediments at ∼+32 m contained successively a dominance of epiphytic mesosaline to hypersaline species and tychoplanktonic oligosaline diatoms, indicating weak fluctuations in water-level and salinity. At 13,000 years, strong changes in the diatom flora occurred; epiphytic oligo-hypersaline diatoms were replaced by planktonic meso-polysaline species. They indicate a deep salt lake (the lake reached ∼+100 m). After ∼12,000 years, the lake level abruptly dropped, as suggested by fluviatile sediments with a benthic mesopolysaline diatom flora. The main lake was replaced by shallow saline ponds. A wet pulse occurred at ∼11,400 years, characterized by low water level (∼+7 m) and high salinity. This lacustrine phase remained until 10,400 yr B.P. These data indicate changes in Precipitation minus Evaporation (P-E). Our regional interpretations are based on a comparison with teh available data on the northern (Lake Titicaca) and southern (Lipez are) Bolivian Altiplano and on the northern Chilean Altiplano (Atacama Desert).

Key words

Bolivia diatom Late Glacial paleohydrology paleosalinity 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florence Sylvestre
    • 1
  • Simone Servant-Vildary
    • 1
  • Marc Fournier
    • 2
  • Michel Servant
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratorie de GéologieAntene ORSTOM, Museum National d'Histoire NaturelleParisFrance
  2. 2.ORSTOMBonday cedexFrance

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