Lithostratigraphy of the Mérida (Wisconsinan) glaciation and Pedregal interstade, Mérida Andes, northwestern Venezuela

Randy W. Dirszowsky, William C. Mahaney, Kyle R. Hodder, Michael W. Milner, Volli Kalm, Maximiliano Bezada, Roelf P. Beukens

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20 Scopus citations


At Pedregal, more than 40 m of sediments are exposed within a 'fan complex' formed between lateral moraines of the adjacent Mucuchache and El Caballo valleys. Early and late Mérida (Wisconsinan) glaciations are represented by till and till plus proglacial sediments, respectively. A middle Wisconsinan interstadial event, here termed the Pedregal interstade, began at the end of the Early Mérida glaciation at approximately 60 ka BP. Following the retreat of ice from the small Pedregal Basin, a lake formed when the local drainage was blocked due to movement of the Mesa de Caballo along the Boconó Fault. Shallow lake or no-lake phases lasted approximately a few hundred to, at most, 2000 years, and each lake phase was marked by peat accumulation. Four of seven peats identified formed during sufficiently long intervals for soil profiles (incipient to mature Spodosols) also to develop. The Spodosol with the strongest development (Eb/Bsb/Coxb/Cub horizons) is found adjacent to the lowest peat and reflects ongoing early Mérida stadial (MIS 3) conditions; the youngest peats, associated with weak podzolic soils (Eb/Bsb horizons), formed under slightly warmer interstadial conditions, presumably with less soil water. Cyclic lacustrine deposition is related to lake level and relative depth fluctuations, due in part to variable shoreline/delta progradation and shallowing as the lake deepened in general. Whereas final drainage of the lake is related to movement of the Boconó Fault and breach of the moraines that form the Mesa de Caballo, earlier lake level fluctuations appear related to climate change. Radiocarbon dating of the peats suggests they are related to warmer periods and may tentatively correlate with small 'interstadials' or 'D-O events' detected in the oxygen-isotope record of Greenland ice cores and North Atlantic marine sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-536
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of South American Earth Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Andes
  • GRIP correlation
  • Lithostratigraphy
  • Mérida glaciation
  • Venezuela

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