Pliocene and Early Pleistocene glaciation and landscape evolution on the Patagonian Steppe, Santa Cruz province, Argentina

Thumbnail Image
Clague, John J.
Barendregt, René W.
Menounos, Brian
Roberts, Nicholas J.
Rabassa, Jorge
Martinez, Oscar
Ercolano, Bettina
Corbella, Hugo
Hemming, Sidney R.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
At least seven late Pliocene tills cap plateaus (mesetas) south of Lago Viedma, just east of the Andes in Argentine Patagonia. Chronologic constraints on the tills are provided by 40Ar/39Ar ages and magnetic polarities on associated basalt flows and sediments. The tills were deposited by piedmont glaciers that reached at least 80 km east of the crest of the Andes and flowed on a low-relief surface sloping gently downward in that direction. The oldest of the tills is about 3.6 Ma old. Glacial deposits dating to the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition are present at least 40 km beyond the east limit of the Pliocene tills at Lago Viedma, and tills of similar age occur at Condor Cliff in the Río Santa Cruz valley to the southeast. A sequence of at least seven Early Pleistocene (2.1–1.1 Ma) tills is present between basalt flows in the Cerro del Fraile meseta south of Lago Argentino. The glaciers that deposited these Early Pleistocene tills reached far beyond the Marine Isotope Stage 2 limit in the Río Santa Cruz valley. Based on positions, extents, and ages of the un-deformed, basalt-capped mesetas flanking Lago Viedma, we conclude that the topography in this area was profoundly changed during the Pleistocene – the low to moderate relief Pliocene surface was deeply incised by glaciers that became increasingly confined to, and flowed within, troughs. The valley floors today are up to 1350 m below the late Pliocene surface.
Open access article. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) applies
Glaciation , Cenozoic , Landscape evolution , Radiogenic isotopes , Pliocene , Early Pleistocene , Patagonia Steppe , Glacial deposits
Clague, J. J., Barendregt. R. W., Menounos, B., Roberts, N. J., Rabassa, J., Martinez, O., Ercolano, B., Corbella, H., & Hemming, S. R. (2020). Pliocene and Early Pleistocne glaciation and landscape evolution on the Patagonian Steppe, Santa Cruz province, Argentina. Quaternary Science Reviews, 227(1), Article 105992.