Neogene fluvial landscape evolution in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert

  • Dating of extensive alluvial fan surfaces and fluvial features in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert, Chile, using cosmogenic nuclides provides unrivalled insights about the onset and variability of aridity. The predominantly hyperarid conditions help to preserve the traces of episodic climatic and/or slow tectonic change. Utilizing single clast exposure dating with cosmogenic 10Be and 21Ne, we determine the termination of episodes of enhanced fluvial erosion and deposition occurring at ~19, ~14, ~9.5 Ma; large scale fluvial modification of the landscape had ceased by ~2–3 Ma. The presence of clasts that record pre-Miocene exposure ages (~28 Ma and ~34 Ma) require stagnant landscape development during the Oligocene. Our data implies an early onset of (hyper-) aridity in the core region of the Atacama Desert, interrupted by wetter but probably still arid periods. The apparent conflict with interpretation that favour a later onset of (hyper-) aridity can be reconciled when the climatic gradients within the Atacama Desert are considered.

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Author:Benedikt Ritter, Finlay M. Stuart, Steven A. Binnie, Axel Gerdes, Volker Wennrich, Tibor J. Dunai
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Scientific reports
Publisher:Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
Place of publication:[London]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/09/17
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/10/02
Tag:Geomorphology; Palaeoclimate; Sedimentology
Issue:1, Art. 13952
Page Number:16
First Page:1
Last Page:16
Rights and permissions: Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0