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Reconstruction of the hydrologic history of a shallow Patagonian steppe lake during the past 700 yr, using chemical, geologic, and biological proxies

  • Corina Coviaga (a1), Andrea Rizzo (a2) (a3), Patricia Pérez (a4), Romina Daga (a2) (a3), Daniel Poiré (a5), Gabriela Cusminsky (a1) and Sergio Ribeiro Guevara (a2)...


The limnological conditions during the past 700 yr were reconstructed based on multiproxy analysis of a short sedimentary sequence from El Toro Lake (~40°S, 70°W). Mineralogical and geochemical features, as well as ostracods and chironomids, record hydrologic changes in the El Toro Lake basin. The ostracod Limnocythere rionegroensis var. 1, a reliable indicator of high salinity, and Eucypris fontana, a euryhaline species with preferences for moderate-salinity waters, are studied as paleolimnological proxies. The chironomid fauna indicates less saline conditions in the mid-twentieth century. These salinity changes are interpreted in terms of negative–positive hydrologic balance. High lake level and low salinity between AD 1500 and 1700 match with the wetter and colder climate during the second pulse of the Little Ice Age in northern Patagonia. High-salinity conditions occurred during the late nineteenth century, corresponding to the driest period during the past 400 yr in northeastern Patagonia. An increase in the precipitation around the middle of the twentieth century, in contrast to the records from the Chilean side of the mountains, correlates with a positive phase of the Southern Annular Mode. This is associated, in turn, with a strengthening, poleward shift of the midlatitude westerlies, possibly enhancing easterly moist air flows into central-north Patagonia.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author at: Centro Atómico Bariloche, CNEA, Av. Bustillo km 9.5, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina. E-mail address: (S.R. Guevara).


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