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Lichenometric dating using Rhizocarpon subgenus Rhizocarpon in the Patagonian Andes, Argentina

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017


This study represents the first attempt to develop and apply lichenometric dating curves of Rhizocarpon subgenus Rhizocarpon for dating glacier fluctuations in the Patagonian Andes. Six glaciers were studied along the Patagonian Andes. Surfaces of known ages (historical evidences and tree-ring analyses) were used as control sites to develop indirect lichenometric dating curves. Dating curves developed for the studied glaciers show the same general logarithmic form, indicating that growth rate of subgenus Rhizocarpon decreases over time. The strong west–east precipitation gradient across the Andean Cordillera introduces statistically significant differences in the growth curves, with faster growth rates in the moist west sites than the drier eastern sites. Latitudinal difference among the studied glaciers does not appear to be a major factor regulating lichen growth rates. Therefore, we developed two lichenometric curves for dating glacier fluctuations in wetter and drier sites in the Patagonian Andes during the past 450 yrs. Application of the developed curves to moraine dating allowed us to complement glacial chronologies previously obtained by tree-ring analyses. A first chronosequence for moraine formation in the Torrecillas Glacier (42°S) is presented. Our findings confirm the utility of lichenometry to date deglaciated surfaces in the Patagonian Andes.

University of Washington

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