Glaciar León, Chilean Patagonia: late-Holocene chronology and geomorphology

Stephan Harrison*, Neil Glasser, Vanessa Winchester, Eleanor Haresign, Charles Warren, Geoff A.T. Duller, Richard Bailey, Susan Ivy-Ochs, Krister Jansson, Peter Kubik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Glaciar León is a temperate, grounded outlet of the eastern North Patagonian Icefield (NPI). It terminates at an active calving margin in Lago Leones, a 10 km long proglacial lake. We take a multidisciplinary approach to its description and use ASTER imagery and clast sedimentology to describe the geomorphology of the glacier and its associated moraines. We date periods of glacier retreat over the last 2500 years using a combination of lichenometric, dendrochronological, cosmogenic and optically stimulated luminescence techniques and show that the glacier receded from a large terminal moraine complex some 2500 years ago and underwent further significant recession from nineteenth-century moraine limits. The moraine dates indicate varying retreat rates, in conjunction with significant downwasting. The bathymetry of Lago Leones is characterized by distinct ridges interpreted as moraine ridges that dissect the lake into several basins, with water depths reaching 360 m. The fluctuations of Glaciar León appear to have been controlled by the interplay between climatic forcing and calving dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-652
Number of pages10
JournalThe Holocene
Issue number4
Early online date1 Jun 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • 'Little ice age'
  • Calving dynamics
  • Chile
  • Chronology
  • Geomorphology
  • Glacier fluctuations
  • Late holocene
  • Patagonia


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