Seismic stratigraphy and glacial cycles in the inland passages of the Magallanes Region of Chile, southernmost South America

Rodrigo Fernández, Sean Gulick, Cristian Rodrigo, Eugene Domack, Amy Leventer

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7 Citations (Scopus)


We present results of a marine geophysical survey that imaged submarine sedimentary and geomorphic features of the main inland channels of the Magallanes Region of Chile, in southernmost South America. This region holds a remarkable terrestrial and marine record of glacial variations in the closest landmass to Antarctica. We report evidence for grounded ice along the main channels associated with two ice lobes that flowed from Cordillera Darwin, part of the Austral Andes, into Central Estrecho de Magallanes and Seno Almirantazgo. Multibeam data show drumlins and glacial lineations in Whiteside Channel the northern continuation of Seno Almirantazgo, and iceberg plough marks in Central Estrecho de Magallanes. Multichannel seismic data show a complex array of seismic facies, interpreted as representing two main types of sedimentary units: glacimarine sediments, corresponding to glacial periods, and pelagic sediments, corresponding to interglacial periods. We find that there are two interglacial-glacial cycles represented in this marine sedimentary record. Chronologically: 1) the youngest glacial unit corresponds to the last regional glaciation (~ 31–18 ka); 2) these passageways deglaciated with the retreat from regional glacial limit ‘D’ (~ 17–18 ka), and 3) there is no marine sedimentary or morphological evidence that the Magallanes glaciers readvanced into the main passageways during the Antarctic Cold Reversal (~ 14–13 ka). These findings suggest that final deglaciation of southernmost South America was driven by the atmospheric and ocean warming that started ~ 18 ka as recorded in Antarctic ice core records and sea surface temperature proxies offshore the Magallanes Region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-31
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Geology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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