Timescale and Latitudinal dependence of Glacial Erosion Rates from Patagonia and Antarctic Peninsula Tidewater Glaciers (46-65 deg S)
Fernandez-Vasquez, Rodrigo Alejandro
Anderson, John B.
Doctor of Philosophy
I use time-constrained sediment volumes delivered by glaciers calving into Marinelli Fjord (55°S), an outlet glacier of the Cordillera Darwin Ice Cap, Southern Patagonia, to determine erosion rates across different timescales. These results indicate that modern sediment yields and erosion rates from temperate tidewater glaciers can exceed long-term values over the time of deglaciation after the LGM (centennial and millennial time scales) by up to two orders of magnitude. In northern Patagonia (Gualas glacier area, 46.5°S), an overall increase in sediment production in the late Holocene is interpreted as result of a sharp increase in centennial timescale precipitation (intensified westerly winds). Erosion rates values span two orders of magnitude from 0.03 mm/yr for Lapeyrere Bay at Anver Island (~64.5°S), up to 1.09 mm/yr for San Rafael glacier at northern Patagonia (~46.5°S). Rates from the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers are in general lower than the temperate Patagonian glaciers. A good correlation of erosion rates and modern (estimated sea level annual 1970 temperature) sea level annual temperature was found. Latitudinal decrease of millenial is interpreted as result of decreasing annual temperature although decreasing in annual precipitation is suggested. The pattern of thermochronology ages from other studies (Thompson et al., 2010; Guenthner et al., 2010), along with the values of 10 3 and 10 6 years timescales erosion rates from this study, indicate that long-term glacial erosion decreases significantly its efficiency with latitude, implying that long-term glacial cover acts as a protective blanket, hindering erosion and allowing mountain growth. We conclude that the pattern of erosion rate decrease with timescale reflects the sensitivity of glaciers to climate variability. Temperate glaciers have higher sensitivity and greater response amplitude to climatic stress than subpolar or polar glaciers. This results in a decrease in erosion rates (sediment production) with latitude, and also in a decrease of erosion rate gradients with timescale.