EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Distribution and morpho-thermal characteristics of rock glaciers in southern Peru: case, Cordilleras Huanzo and Chila

Katy Medina1, Edwin Loarte1, Edwin Badillo1, Hairo Leon1,2, Francisco Castillo2, and Christian Huggel3
Katy Medina et al.
  • 1National Institute for Research on Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems (INAIGEM)
  • 2Santiago Antunez de Mayolo National University (UNASAM), Huaraz, Peru
  • 3University of Zurich, Department of Geography, Zurich, Switzerland

Climate change generates significant impacts on high mountain regions, especially considering the sensitivity of tropical glaciers. However, information about rock glaciers are very scarce and there is very limited research in this field in Peru. Rock glacier concentrate mainly in the southern part of Peru where 95% of rock glaciers are located. Here we present for the first time an overview of rock glacier occurrence and characteristics in Peru.

The Cordilleras Huanzo and Chila are located in the mountain ranges in the southern region of Peru, Huanzo in the administrative region of Apurimac, Arequipa, Cusco and Ayacucho, while Chila in Arequipa. Both cordilleras extend from S 15°39'41.36" to 14°03'17.54" and W 73°24'12.55" to 71°27'113.20". For this study, remote sensing tools and geographic information system were applied, using images from Google Earth-Pro and SASPlanet, corrected DEM ALOS Palsar (12.5m), MERIT DEM (90m) and WorldClim data (1970-2000) 1 km2.

The results indicate that in the cordillera Huanzo there are 317 rock glaciers with a total area of 26.97 km2 and in the cordillera Chila there are 289 rock glaciers with 17.96 km2. Concerning their activity or dynamic there are 295 intact (active and inactive) rock glaciers and 311 relict or fossil rock glaciers.

The results further indicate that rock glaciers are located in thermal ranges between -1.53°C and 3.97°C. The relict or fossil types are located in the thermal range between -1.34°C and 3.97°C, while intact types between -1.53°C and 2.56°C. The rock glaciers of the cordillera Huanzo are located at an average altitude of 4497 to 5221 m.a.s.l., while in the cordillera Chila at 4470 to 5454 m.a.s.l. The aspect is predominantly S to SW.

Rock glaciers contain ice which may represent a potential water reserve in arid regions in Southern of Peru. The greatest distribution of these resources is found in the Camana and Ocoña basins of the Pacific watershed with 38.1 km2 of rock glacier area. In the Atlantic watershed, 6.8 km2 of rock glaciers are located in the Alto Apurimac and Ocoña basins.

How to cite: Medina, K., Loarte, E., Badillo, E., Leon, H., Castillo, F., and Huggel, C.: Distribution and morpho-thermal characteristics of rock glaciers in southern Peru: case, Cordilleras Huanzo and Chila, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4442,, 2020