Rock glacier and protalus rampart inventory in Las Salinas river basin, Central Andes of Argentina

Ana Paula Forte, Cristian Daniel Villarroel, María Yanina Esper Angillieri


This paper presents a detailed rock glacier and protalus rampart inventory from Las Salinas river basin, an arid subtropical mountain hydrological system (between 31°02’ and 31°22’ S latitude) located in the northern sector of the Central Andes of Argentina, where permafrost and cryogenic processes prevail. The inventory is based on a geomorphological characterization by means of optical remote sensing and field description data. The study region covers 630 km2, with 3.25% of the area containing 405±8.2 rock glaciers and protalus ramparts in total, of which 231±2.5 are considered protalus rampart and 49±2 are considered active, 61±1 inactive and 64±3 fossil rock glaciers. Frequency ratio and logistic regression were used as statistical methods to determine the relationship between the distribution of these periglacial landforms and different geological, morphometric and climatic variables as elevation, potential incoming solar radiation, slope, aspect and lithology. Results show that elevation, lithology, and aspect are the most influencing factors for the occurrence of active rock glaciers. According to rock glaciers and protalus ramparts distribution, the permafrost occurrence probability is above 3690 m a.s.l. (current and high periglacial environment). However, some inactive rock glaciers and protalus rampart were found below this elevation, thus between 3300 and 3690 m a.s.l. the landscapes are dominated by an unstable periglacial environment.


Rock glacier; Mountain Permafrost; protalus rampart; Central Andes of Argentina; Environmental variables

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Copyright (c) 2021 Ana Paula Forte, Cristian Daniel Villarroel, María Yanina Esper Angillieri

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