Ice volumetric changes on active volcanoes in southern Chile

Andrés Rivera*, Francisca Brown, Ronald Mella, Jens Wendt, Gino Casassa, César Acuña, Eric Rignot, Jorge Clavero, Benjamin Brock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Most of the glaciers in southern Chile have been retreating and shrinking during recent decades in response to atmospheric warming and decrease in precipitation. However, some glacier fluctuations are directly associated with the effusive and geothermal activity of ice-covered active volcanoes widely distributed in the region. The aim of this paper is to study the ice volumetric changes by comparing several topographic datasets. A maximum mean ice thinning rate of 0.81 ± 0.45 m a-1 was observed on the ash/debris-covered ablation area of Volcán Villarrica between 1961 and 2004, whilst on Volcán Mocho the signal-to-noise ratio was too small to yield any conclusion. An area reduction of 0.036 ± 0.019 km2 a-1 since 1976 was obtained on Glaciar Mocho, while on Volcán Villarrica the area change was -0.090 ± 0.034 km2 a-1 between 1976 and 2005. Glaciers on active volcanoes are therefore shrinking, mainly in response to climatic driving factors. However, volcanic activity is affecting glaciers in two opposite ways: ash/debris advection is helping to reduce surface ablation at lower reaches by insulating the ice from solar radiation, while geothermal activity is probably enhancing melting and water production at the bedrock, resulting in negative ice-elevation changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Glaciology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


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