Late Pleistocene glaciations of the arid subtropical Andes and new results from the Chajnantor Plateau, northern Chile
The spatiotemporal pattern of glaciation along the Andes Mountains is an important proxy record reflecting the varying influence of global and regional circulation features on South American climate. However, the timing and extent of glaciation in key parts of the orogen, particularly the deglaciated arid Andes, are poorly constrained. We present new cosmogenic 10Be and 36Cl exposure ages for glacial features on and near the Chajnantor Plateau (23 °S). The new dates, although scattered due to cosmogenic inheritance, imply that the most recent extensive glacial occupation ended before or during the global Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). We discuss this new record in the context of published glacial chronologies from glacial features in Peru, Bolivia, and northern Chile rescaled using the latest cosmogenic 10Be production rate calibration for the tropical Andes. The results imply regionally synchronous moraine stabilization ca. 25-40 ka, 15-17 ka, and 12-14 ka, with the youngest of these moraines absent in records south of ∼20 °S, including in our new Chajnantor area chronology. This spatial pattern implicates easterly moisture in generating sufficient snowfall to glaciate the driest parts of the Andes, while allowing a role for westerly moisture, possibly modulated by the migration of the Southern Westerly Wind belt, in the regions near and south of the Atacama Desert.