Late Quaternary palaeolakes, rivers, and wetlands on the Bolivian Altiplano and their palaeoclimatic implications

Journal Article (Review;Journal)

Drill cores of sediments from the Rio Desaguadero valley, Bolivia, provide new information about the climate of tropical South America over the past 50 000 years. The modern Rio Desaguadero is fed by Lake Titicaca overflow (and by local tributaries) in the wetter northern Altiplano and discharges into Lake Poopo in the more arid central Altiplano. During the late Quaternary the Rio Desaguadero valley was the site of several generations of palaeolakes and wetlands that formed during periods of increased precipitation and local runoff, augmented by increased overflow from Lake Titicaca. Sediments recovered by drilling in eight localities along the 390-km long valley of the Rio Desaguadero yield a regional history of lacustrine sedimentation and effective precipitation. Lacustrine strata in the drill cores record 12 distinct wet periods in the past 50 000 years. Four of these wet periods resulted in the formation of major palaeolakes in the Rio Desaguadero valley: during the last glacial maximum from before 20 000 to 16 000 cal. yr BP, during the late glacial from about 14 000 to 12 000 cal. yr BP, in the early Holocene from about 10 000 to 7900 cal. yr BP, and in the late Holocene from 4500 cal. yr BP to present. The period that appears to have been most arid was between 7900 and 4500 cal. yr BP. The Altiplano wet periods were generally synchronous with North Atlantic cold events (respectively, the last glacial maximum, the Younger Dryas, the 8200 cal. yr BP event, and the Neoglacial) implying a relationship between past precipitation variability in tropical South America and North Atlantic sea-surface temperature. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rigsby, CA; Bradbury, JP; Baker, PA; Rollins, SM; Warren, MR

Published Date

  • October 1, 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 20 / 7-8

Start / End Page

  • 671 - 691

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0267-8179

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/jqs.986

Citation Source

  • Scopus