Research Project

EarthShape – BOFEDAL: Biota’s forcing of earth surface dynamics ascertained on land and sea

One of the main goals of EarthShape is the quantification of biotic processes, which modify the earth shape in the critical zone. The biotic processes in the recently hyper-arid Atacama Desert are controlled by the availability of water. As precipitation was highly variable during the period in which biotic processes are measurable there (at least tens to thousands of years), the changes in intensities of processes due to climate change needs to be considered.

In our project, we aim to study the activity of biota in the coastal area during the mid- to late Holocene (primary focus area Pan de Azúcar, 26° S). Despite the pronounced aridity of the coastal strip, a number of saline and freshwater springs exist, mainly fed by fog and dewfall, in the so called “Camanchaca zone”. At these hotspots of humidity, archives were formed under the conditions of locally standing water and gleyic soils. Due to the distorting effects of past climatic fluctuations, the paleoclimatic records at these areas are expected to be discontinuous and lack resolution.

Hence, the acquisition of undistorted, continuous information will be done by the study of two framing master records:

  1. the study of a high Andean peatland (“bofedal”) and an adjacent lake and
  2. the study of a marine sediment core (GeoB 7139-2, 30° S off Chile).

By this means, we want to fill the unavoidable gaps in coastal sedimentary archives with the help of continuous high-resolution paleoclimatic proxy data to get the best possible assessment of changes in biota-controlled processes and their intensity in north central Chile, where detailed Holocene paleoclimatic information is missing.

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Latest Revision: 2019-05-05
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