Glaciares de Chile


"Recent glacier variations on active ice capped volcanoes in the Southern Volcanic Zone (37º-46ºS), Chilean Andes"

Rivera, A. and F. Bown (2013) : «Recent glacier variations on active ice capped volcanoes in the Southern Volcanic Zone (37º-46ºS), Chilean Andes» Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 45: 345-356.

Resumen / Abstract.

Glaciers in the southern province of the Southern Volcanic Zone (SVZ) of Chile (37-46ºS) have experienced significant frontal retreats and area losses in recent decades which have been primarily triggered by tropospheric warming and precipitation decrease. The resulting altitudinal increase of the Equilibrium Line Altitude or ELA of glaciers has lead to varied responses to climate, although the predominant volcanic stratocone morphologies prevent drastic changes in their Accumulation Area Ratios or AAR. Superimposed on climate changes however, glacier variations have been influenced by frequent eruptive activity. Explosive eruptions of ice capped volcanoes have the strongest potential to destroy glaciers, with the most intense activity in historical times being recorded at Nevados de Chillán, Villarrica and Hudson. The total glacier area located on top of the 26 active volcanoes in the study area is ca. 500 km². Glacier areal reductions ranged from a minimum of -0.07 km² a-1 at Mentolat, a volcano with one of the smallest ice caps, up to a maximum of -1.16 km² a-1 at Volcán Hudson. Extreme and contrasting glacier-volcano interactions are summarised with the cases ranging from the abnormal ice frontal advances at Michinmahuida, following the Chaitén eruption in 2008, to the rapid melting of the Hudson intracaldera ice following its plinian eruption of 1991. The net effect of climate changes and volcanic activity are negative mass balances, ice thinning and glacier area shrinkage. This paper summarizes the glacier changes on selected volcanoes within the region, and discusses climatic versus volcanic induced changes. This is crucial in a volcanic country like Chile due to the hazards imposed by lahars and other volcanic processes.