A 68 ka precipitation record from the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile

Diederich, Julia L.; Wennrich, Volker; Bao, Roberto; Buettner, Christoph; Bolten, Andreas; Brill, Dominik; Buske, Stefan; Campos, Eduardo; Fernandez-Galego, Emma; Goedickmeier, Peggy; Ninnemann, Lukas; Reyers, Mark; Ritter, Benedikt; Ritterbach, Laura; Rolf, Christian; et. al.


The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest deserts on Earth. Hyperaridity persists at least since the Miocene and was punctuated by pluvial phases. However, very little is known about the timing, regional spread and intensities of precipitation changes. Here, we present a new precipitation record from a sedimentary sequence recovered in a tectonically blocked endorheic basin that is located in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert. The chronostratigraphic framework of the record is given by a multi-disciplinary dating approach, suggesting an age of ca. 68 ka BP for the core base. The sequence consists of three sediment types, whose sedimentological and geochemical characteristics suggest different depositional processes that reflect different degrees in humidity. First, particularly fine-grained sediments with high clastic but low calcium sulfate and carbonate contents reflect a particularly dry climate with only sporadic precipitation events and fluvial supply via channel systems. Second, more coarse-grained sediments with lower clastic and higher calcium sulfate and carbonate contents reflect more moist conditions with stronger precipitation events that lead to fluvial activity not restricted to the channels but involving the slopes and plains in the catchment. Third, normally graded layers with an equally high proportion of calcium sulfate and carbonate reflect occasional high-precipitation events that caused sediment supply also from most distant parts of the catchment via severe flash floods. The sedimentary succession suggests that precipitation changes took place on orbital but also on millennial time scales. Rather moist periods occurred during most of MIS 2, several shorter periods within MIS 3 and parts of MIS 4. Comparison of the findings from the Huara record with selected climate records from continental and marine sites in South America suggests a strong precipitation heterogeneity across the Atacama. This heterogeneity is caused by pronounced differences in the dominating climate patterns and a shift from predominant summer rain in the north to winter rain in the south. Precipitation supply to the Huara clay plan is controlled by the atmospheric circulation rather than the surface temperature of the adjacent ocean.

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Título según WOS: A 68 ka precipitation record from the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile
Título según SCOPUS: A 68?ka precipitation record from the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile
Volumen: 184
Editorial: Elsevier
Fecha de publicación: 2020
Idioma: English