The last deglaciation of Peru and Bolivia

B. Mark, N. Stansell, G. Zeballos


The tropical Andes of Peru and Bolivia are important for preserving geomorphic evidence of multiple glaciations, allowing for refinements of chronology to aid in understanding climate dynamics at a key location between hemispheres. This review focuses on the deglaciation from Late-Pleistocene maximum positions near the global Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). We synthesize the results of the most recent published glacial geologic studies from 12 mountain ranges or regions within Peru and Bolivia where glacial moraines and drift are dated with terrestrial cosmogenic nuclides (TCN), as well as maximum and minimum limiting ages based on radiocarbon in proximal sediments. Special consideration is given to document paleoglacier valley localities with topographic information given the strong vertical mass balance sensitivity of tropical glaciers. Specific valley localities show variable and heterogeneous sequences ages and extensions of paleoglaciers, but conform to a generally cogent regional sequence revealed by more continuous lake sedimentary records. There are clear distributions of stratigraphically older and younger moraine ages that we group and discuss chronologically. The timing of the local LGM based on average TCN ages of moraine groups is 25.1 ka, but there are large uncertainties (up to 7 ka) making the relative timing with the global LGM elusive. There are a significant number of post-LGM moraines that date to 18.9 (± 0.5) ka. During the Oldest Dryas (18.0 to 14.6 ka), moraine boulders date to 16.1 (± 1.1) ka, suggesting that glaciers either experienced stillstands or readvances during this interval. The Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR; 14.6 to 12.6 ka) is another phase of stillstanding or readvancing glaciers with moraine groups dating to 13.7 (± 0.8) ka, followed by retreating ice margins through most of the Younger Dryas (YD; 12.9 to 11.8 ka). During the early Holocene, groups of moraines in multiple valleys date to 11.0 (± 0.4) ka, marking a period when glaciers either readvanced or paused from the overall trend of deglaciation. The pattern of glacial variability during the Late Glacial after ~14.6 ka appears to be more synchronous with periods of cooling in the southern high latitudes, and out-of-phase with the overall deglacial trend in the Northern Hemisphere. While insolation and CO2 forcing likely drove the general pattern of deglaciation in the southern tropical Andes, regional ocean-atmospheric and hypsometric controls must have contributed to the full pattern of glacial variability.


Tropical Andes; Last Glacial Maximum; terrestrial cosmogenic nuclides; paleoglaciers; deglaciation

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