Researchers from Argentina and Chile were able to measure the depth of Lake Viedma in Patagonia , near the glacier of the same name, and discovered that it sinks up to 900 meters.
Argentine and Chilean scientists discovered in southern Patagonia what could be the deepest lake in the American continent and one of the five in the world, a finding as a result of the retreat of the ice due to climate change , the University of Chile reported this Friday .
In a statement, the institution explained that the researchers were able last May to measure the depth of Lake Viedma, close to the glacier of the same name, in an area unexplored to date, since it was covered by what seemed like eternal ice, and they discovered that it sinks to 900 meters.
“Since 2014 to date, the Viedma glacier has experienced a loss of 5.5 km2 of ice surface due to a frontal retreat of 2 km, which has revealed an unexplored area,” the note explains.
Trench 900 meters deep
“Researchers navigated Lake Viedma in a vessel belonging to the Administration of National Parks of Argentina with which a detailed survey of the bottom of the lake was carried out. To the surprise of the researchers, the bottom presents a trench that reaches a maximum depth of 900 meters ± 3% error. It is an absolute record in Patagonia and South America ,” he adds.
According to the researchers, associated with the Andean-Ianigla Geomatics Laboratory, Conicet-Argentina, the National University of Cuyo and the University of Chile (Andrés Rivera), “this means that the bottom of the lake near the current front is close to 650 meters “below sea level”.
“With the results obtained, the Viedma becomes the deepest in the American continent and the fifth on the planet,” the publication underlines.
The scientists, who had the logistical support of Los Glaciares National Park , also confirmed that the lake has a complex vertical structure, with surface temperatures of about 7 degrees Celsius that drop to zero degrees Celsius at the bottom of the lake, which It was formed by the erosive force possessed by glaciers.
During at least the last million years they have expanded several times, occupying a large part of the southern Patagonian region and when they retreated from the last Glaciation, about 18,000 years ago, they left in their wake the great Patagonian lakes, the Strait of Magellan and the set of fjords and channels of Western Patagonia .
The investigations in these lakes are important to reconstruct the long-term glacial variations, understand the recent fluctuations of the fronts and thus explain the differences in behavior in terms of their dynamics that this type of glacier currently exhibits, the scientists recall.