Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 267–281 | Cite as

Timing of the late glacial and Younger Dryas cold reversal in southern Chile varved sediments

  • Xavier BoësEmail author
  • Nathalie Fagel
Original Paper


The timing of the last deglaciation in southern Chile is re-evaluated from a calendar varve chronology (Lago Puyehue, 40° S). The climate shifts are analysed by continuous annual varve-thickness measurements through the ∼17,100 cal. year to 10,800 cal. year BP time window (∼3.5 m sediment core). The varve years are determined by the alternation of light (phytoplankton-rich) and dark (terrigenous and organic-rich) layers forming graded annual couplets (∼0.2 to 0.8 mm/year). The varve chronology is constructed by conventional varve-counting methods on thin sections after correction for instantaneous volcanic and/or seismic events detected in the thin sections. The calibrated varve-age model derived from the manual varve counting is constrained by high-resolution grey-scale (GS) semi-automatic counts of the annual light phytoplankton-rich layers (∼120 μm to 300 μm thick). Due to physical sediment properties the GS constitutes a proxy record for the phytoplankton/terrigenous varve-thickness variations through the sediment record. The varve couplets are thicker/thinner during humid/dry phases and darker/lighter (negative/positive annual grey-scale index) during cold/warm phases. Our results show that at 40° S the last deglaciation took place in two phases between ∼17,100  cal. year and ∼15,500 cal. year BP. We note a climate instability between ∼15,500 cal. year and 13,300 cal. year BP and a significant dry phase between ∼15,000 and 14,500 cal. year BP. We evidence a cold event in two phases between ∼13,300 and 12,200 cal. year BP interrupted by a dry event between ∼12,800 and 12,600 cal. year BP. The onset of a significant warmer period is observed after ∼11,500 cal. year BP. Our results provide new evidence of a Younger Dryas cool reversal in southern Chile, i.e., the Huelmo/Mascardi event Hajdas et al. (2003) associated with an abrupt dry pulse at ∼12,800–12,600 cal. year BP. The high-resolution grey-scale measurements performed on the biogenic varves from Lago Puyehue provide a reliable calibrated chronology of the regional environmental and climate shifts during the last deglaciation.


Chile Lake District Varve chronology Grey scale Termination I Younger Dryas 



This study has been financially supported by OSTC ENSO-Chile project (EV 12/10B, M. De Batist–coordinator). We particularly thank M. De Batist and M. Chapron who introduced X. Boës to the ENSO project. We thank the Chambery teams (C. Beck, F. Arnaud, V. Lignier) for support, and the Chilean teams (A. Pena, R. Urrutia, W. San Martin) for assistance during the coring campaign in Lago Puyehue in 2002. We particulary thank C. Tribolo for the helpful improvements of the grey-scale semi-automatic varve-counting method in thin sections and T. Gerards for assistance during SEM images acquisition. We thank F. Boulvain, J. P. Culus and F. Noebert for laboratory access (ULg). We particularly thank A. Pazdur, N. Piotrowska, M. Fogtman from the Gliwice Radiocarbon Laboratory for assistance during the preparation of graphite targets that were treated later in Poznan Radiocarbon Laboratory for AMS 14C measurements. Thanks are also due to M. Sterken, L. Vargas Ramirez, F. Charlet and S. Bertrand for inter-attractive discussions that lead us to a better comprehension of Lago Puyehue sediments. The author thanks M.F. Loutre for the helpful comments. X.B is supported by a Ph-D FNRS-FRIA and CGRI grants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clays and Paleoclimate Research UnitUniversity of LiègeLiegeBelgium

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