Skip to main content

Climate variability over the last 9900 cal yr BP from a swamp forest pollen record along the semiarid coast of Chile

  • Antonio Maldonado (a1) and Carolina Villagrán (a2)

We present a fossil pollen analysis from a swamp forest in the semiarid coast of Chile (32°05′S; 71°30′W), at the northern influence zone of southern westerly wind belt. A ∼10,000 cal yr BP (calendar years before 1950) palynological sequence indicates a humid phase characterized by dense swamp forest taxa dated between ∼9900 and 8700 cal yr BP. The presence of pollen-starved sediments with only scant evidence for semiarid vegetation indicates that extreme aridity ensued until ∼5700 cal yr BP. The swamp forest recovered slowly afterwards, helped by a significant increase in moisture at ∼4200 cal yr BP. A new swamp forest contraction suggests that another slightly less intense drought occurred between ∼3000 and 2200 cal yr BP. The swamp forest expansion begins again at ∼2200 cal yr BP, punctuated by a highly variable climate. Comparisons between the record presented here with other records across the region imply major variations in the extent of the southern westerlies during the Holocene. This variability could have been caused either by latitudinal displacements from the present mean position of southern westerlies wind belt or by changes in the intensity of the South Pacific Subtropical Anticyclone, both of which affect winter precipitation in the region.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author. Fax: +56 51 334741. E-mail address: (A. Maldonado).
Hide All
Abbott, M.B., Wolfe, B.B., Wolfe, A.P., Seltzer, G.O., Aravena, R., Mark, B.G., Polissar, P.J., Rodbell, D.T., Rowe, H.D., and Vuille, M. Holocene paleohydrology and glacial history of the central Andes using multiproxy lake sediment studies. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 123138.
Aceituno, P. On the functioning of the Southern oscillation in the South American sector. Part I. Surface climate. Monthly Weather Review 116, (1988). 505523.
Baker, P.A., Seltzer, G.O., Fritz, S.C., Dunbar, R.B., Grove, M.J., Tapia, P.M., Cross, S.L., Rowe, H.D., and Broda, J.P. The history of South American tropical precipitation for the past 25,000 years. Science 291, (2001). 640643.
Betancourt, J.L., Latorre, C., Rech, J.A., Quade, J., and Rylander, K.A. A 22,000-year record of monsoon precipitation from Northern Chile's Atacama Desert. Science 289, (2000). 15421546.
Carré, M., Bentaleb, I., Fontugne, M., and Lavallé, D. Strong El Niño events during the early Holocene: stable isotope evidence from Peruvian sea shells. The Holocene 15, (2005). 4247.
Clement, A.C., Seager, R., and Cane, M.A. Suppression of El Niño during the mid-Holocene by changes in the Earth's orbit. Paleoceanography 15, (2000). 731737.
Earle, L.R., Warner, B.G., and Aravena, R. Rapid development of an unusual peat-accumulating ecosystem in the Chilean Altiplano. Quaternary Research 59, (2003). 211.
Faegri, K., and Iversen, J. Textbook of Pollen Analysis. (1989). Blackwell Scientific Publication,
Fuenzalida, P. Biogeografía. CORFO Geografía Económica de Chile. (1965). Editorial Universitaria, S.A., Santiago, Chile.
Garreaud, R., and Aceituno, P. Atmospheric circulation over South America: mean features and variability. Young, K. The Physical Geography of South America. (2002). Oxford University Press,
Grimm, E. CONISS: a fortran 77 program for stratigraphically constrained cluster analysis by the method of incremental sum of squares. Computers and Geociences (1987). 1335.
Grosjean, M. Paleohydrology of the Laguna Lejia (North Chilean Altiplano) and climatic implications for late-glacial times. Palaeogeoraphy, Palaeclimatology, Palaeoecology 109, (1994). 89100.
Grosjean, M. Mid-Holocene climate in the South-Central Andes: humid or dry?. Science 292, (2001). 2391a
Grosjean, M., Valero-Garcés, B.L., Geyh, M.A., Messerli, B., Schotterer, U., Schreier, H., and Kelts, K. Mid- and late-Holocene limnogeology of Laguna del Negro Francisco, northern Chile, and its palaeoclimatic implications. The Holocene 7, (1997). 151159.
Grosjean, M., Nuñez, L., Cartajena, I., and Messerli, B. Mid-Holocene climate and culture change in the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile. Quaternary Research 48, (1997). 239246.
Grosjean, M., Geyh, M.A., Messerli, B., Schreier, H., and Veit, H. A late-Holocene (<2600 BP) glacial advance in the south-central Andes (29°S), northern Chile. The Holocene 8, (1998). 473479.
Grosjean, M., Cartajena, I., Geyh, M.A., and Nuñez, L. From proxy data to paleoclimate interpretation: the mid-Holocene paradoxa of the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 247258.
Grove, M.J., Baker, P.A., Cross, S.L., Rigsby, C.A., and Seltzer, G.O. Application of strontium isotopes to understanding the hydrology and paleohydrology of the Altiplano, Bolivia-Peru. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 281297.
Hervé, F., Encinas, A., Villa-Martínez, R., Sven, N., Finger, K., and Peterson, D. Registro sedimentológico de la transgresión marina del Holoceno Medio en el área de Algarrobo (33°22′S), Chile Central. Implicaciones tectonicas y paleoecológicas. 10° Congreso Geológico Chileno. (2003). Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile.
Heusser, C.J. Ice age vegetation and climate of subtropical Chile. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 80, (1990). 107127.
Jenny, B., Valero-Garcés, B.L., Urrutia, R., Kelts, K., Veit, H., Appleby, P.G., and Geyh, M. Moisture changes and fluctuations of the Westerlies in Mediterranean Central Chile during the last 2000 years: the Laguna Aculeo record (33°50′S). Quaternary International 87, (2002). 318.
Jenny, B., Valero-Garcés, B.L., Villa-Martínez, R., Urrutia, R., Geyh, M.A., and Veit, H. Early to mid-holocene aridity in Central Chile and the Southern Westerlies: The Laguna Aculeo record (34°S). Quaternary Reseach 58, (2002). 160170.
Kim, J.-H., Schneider, R.R., Hebbeln, D., Müller, P.J., and Wefer, G. Last deglacial sea-surface temperature evolution in the Southeast Pacific compared to climate changes on the South American continent. Quaternary Science Reviews 21, (2002). 20852097.
Lamy, F., Hebbeln, D., Röhl, U., and Wefer, G. Holocene rainfall variability in southern Chile: a marine record of latitudinal shifts of the Southern Westerlies. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 185, (2001). 369382.
Latorre, C., Betancourt, J.L., Rylander, K.A., Quade, J., and Matthei, O. A vegetation history from the arid prepuna of northern Chile (22–23°S) over the last 13,500 years. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 223246.
Maldonado, A., (1999). “Historia de los bosques pantanosos de la costa de Los Vilos (IV Region, Chile) durante el Holoceno medio y tardío. Unpublished Magíster thesis, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile.
Maldonado, A., and Villagrán, C. Paleoenvironmental changes in the semiarid coast of Chile (∼ 32°S) during the last 6200 cal years inferred from a swamp-forest pollen record. Quaternary Research 58, (2002). 130138.
Maldonado, A., Jackson, D., (2005). Holocene climate change and human settlement on the semiarid coast of Chile (32°S). Holocene environmental catastrophes in South America: from the lowlands to the Andes. Abstract Volume and field guide. Miramar-Córdoba, 11–17 March 2005. Third Joint Meeting of ICSU Dark Nature and IGCP 490.
Maldonado, A.J., Betancourt, J.L., Latorre, C., and Villagrán, C. Pollen analyses from a 50,000-Yr rodent midden series in the Southern Atacama Desert (25°39′S). Journal of Quaternary Science 20, (2005). 493507.
Marchant, M., Hebbeln, D., and Wefer, G. High resolution planktic foraminiferal record of the last 13,300 years from the upwelling area off Chile. Marine Geology 161, (1999). 115128.
Miller, A. The climate of Chile. Schwerdtfeger, W. Climates of Central and South America. (1976). Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Amsterdam. 113145.
Moy, C.M., Seltzer, G.O., Rodbell, D.T., and Anderson, D.M. Variability of El Niño/Southern oscillation activity at millennial timescales during the Holocene epoch. Nature 420, (2002). 162165.
Ota, Y., and Paskoff, R. Holocene deposits on the Coast of North-Central Chile: radiocarbon ages and implications for coastal changes. Revista Geológica de Chile 20, (1993). 2532.
Paduano, G.M., Bush, M.B., Baker, P.A., Fritz, S.C., and Seltzer, G.O. A vegetation and fire history of Lake Titicaca since the Last Glacial Maximum. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 259279.
Quade, J., Rech, J.A., Betancourt, J.L., and Latorre, C. Mid-Holocene climate in the South-Central Andes: humid or dry? Response. Science 292, (2001). 2391a
Ramírez, C., Ferriere, F., and Figueroa, H. Estudio fitosociológico de los bosques pantanosos templados del sur de Chile. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 56, (1983). 1126.
Ramírez, C., San Martín, C., and San Martín, J. Estructura florística de los bosques de Chile sur-central. Armesto, J., Villagrán, C., and Kalin, M. Ecología de los bosques nativos de Chile. (1995). Editorial Universitaria, Santiago. 215234.
Reimer, P.J., Baillie, M.G.L., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, J.W., Bertrand, C., Blackwell, P.G., Buck, C.E., Burr, G., Cutler, K.B., Damon, P.E., Edwars, R.L., Fairbanks, R.G., Friedrich, M., Guilderson, T.P., Hughen, K.A., Kromer, B., McCormac, F.G., Manning, S., Bronk Ramsey, C., Reimer, R.W., Remmele, S., Southon, J.R., Stuiver, M., Talamo, S., Taylor, F.W., van der Plicht, J., and Weyhenmeyer, C.E. IntCal04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0–26 cal kyr BP. Radiocarbon 46, (2004). 10291058.
Riedinger, M.A., Steinitz-Kannan, M., Last, W.M., and Brenner, M. A 6100 14C yr record of El Niño activity from the Galápagos Islands. Journal of Paleolimnology 27, (2002). 17.
Rigsby, C.A., Baker, P.A., and Aldenderfer, M.S. Fluvial history of the Rio Ilave valley, Peru, and its relationship to climate and human history. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 165185.
Rodbell, D.T., Seltzer, G.O., Anderson, D.M., Abbott, M.B., Enfield, D.B., and Newman, J.H. An ∼ 15,000-year record of El Niño-Driven Alluviation in Southwestern Ecuador. Science 283, (1999). 516520.
San Martín, J., Troncoso, A., and Ramírez, C. Estudio fitosociológico de los bosques pantanosos nativos de la Cordillera de la Costa en Chile Central. Bosque 9, (1988). 1733.
Sandweiss, D.H. Terminal Pleistocene through Mid-Holocene archaeological sites as paleoclimatic archives for the Peruvian coast. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 2340.
Sandweiss, D.H., Richardson, J.B. III, Reitz, E.J., Rollins, H.B., and Maasch, K.A. Geoarchaeological evidence from Peru for a 5000 Years BP Onset of El Niño. Science 273, (1996). 15311533.
Sandweiss, D.H., Maasch, K.A., Burger, R.L., Richardson, J.B. III, Rollins, H.B., and Clement, A. Variation in Holocene El Niño frequencies: Climate records and cultural consequences in ancient Peru. Geology 29, (2001). 603606.
Servant, M., and Servant-Vildary, S. Holocene precipitation and atmospheric changes inferred from river paleowetlands in the Bolivian Andes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 187206.
Stockmarr, J. Tablets with spores used in absolute pollen analysis. Pollen et Spores 13, (1971). 615621.
Tapia, P.M., Fritz, S.C., Baker, P.A., Seltzer, G.O., and Dunbar, R.B. A Late Quaternary diatom record of tropical climatic history from Lake Titicaca (Peru and Bolivia). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, (2003). 139164.
Trenberth, K.E. Spatial and temporal variations of the Southern Oscillation. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 102, (1976). 639653.
VanHusen, C., (1967). “Klimagliederung in Chile auf der Basis von Häufigkeitsverteilungen der Niederschlagssummen”. Freiburger Geographischa Hefte 4, 0–113. Universitat Freiburg I, . BR.
Varela, J. Geología del Cuaternario del área de los Vilos-Ensenada El Negro (IV Región) y su relación con la existencia del bosque ''relicto'' de Quebrada Quereo. Congreso Internacional de Zonas Aridas y Semiáridas. (1981). 1730. 33, La Serena
Veit, H. Southern Westerlies during the Holocene deduced from geomorphological and pedological studies in the Norte Chico, Northern Chile (27–33°S). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 123, (1996). 107119.
Villagrán, C. Estructura floristica e historia del bosque pantanoso de Quintero (Chile, V Región) y su relación con las comunidades relictuales de Chile Central y Norte Chico. Actas del III Congreso Geológico (1982). 377402.
Villagrán, C., and Varela, J. Palynological evidence for increased aridity on the Central Chilean Coast during the Holocene. Quaternary Research 34, (1990). 198207.
Villa-Martínez, R., and Villagrán, C. Historia de la vegetación de bosques pantanosos de la costa de Chile central durante el Holoceno medio y tardío. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 70, (1997). 391401.
Villa-Martínez, R., Villagrán, C., and Jenny, B. The last 7500 cal yr BP of westerly rainfall in Central Chile inferred from a high-resolution pollen record from Laguna Aculeo (34°S). Quaternary Reseach 60, (2003). 284293.
Villa-Martínez, R., Villagrán, C., and Jenny, B. Pollen evidence for late-Holocene climatic variability at Laguna de Aculeo, Central Chile (lat. 34°S). The Holocene 14, (2004). 361367.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed