Seismic reflection and refraction data provide insights into the sedimentary infill and the underlying volcanic structure of Laguna Potrok Aike, a maar lake situated in the Pali Aike Volcanic Field, Southern Patagonia. The lake has a diameter of ~3.5 km, a maximum water depth of ~100 m and a presumed age of ~770 ka. Its sedimentary regime is influenced by climatic and hydrologic conditions related to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the Southern Hemispheric Westerlies and sporadic outbreaks of Antarctic polar air masses. Multiproxy environmental reconstructions of the last 16 ka document that this terminal lake is highly sensitive to climate change. Laguna Potrok Aike has recently become a major focus of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program and was drilled down to 100 m below lake floor in late 2008 within the PASADO project. The sediments are likely to contain a continental record spanning the last ca. 80 kyrs unique in the South American realm. Seismic reflection data show relatively undisturbed, stratified lacustrine sediments at least in the upper ~100 m of the sedimentary infill but are obscured possibly by gas and/or coarser material in larger areas. A model calculated from seismic refraction data reveals a funnel-shaped structure embedded in the sandstone rocks of the surrounding Santa Cruz Formation. This funnel structure is filled by lacustrine sediments of up to 370 m in thickness. These can be separated into two distinct subunits with low acoustic velocities of 1500-1800 m s-1 in the upper subunit pointing at unconsolidated lacustrine muds, and enhanced velocities of 2000-2350 m s-1 in the lower subunit. Below these lacustrine sediments, a unit of probably volcanoclastic origin is observed (>2400 m s-1). This sedimentary succession is well comparable to other well-studied sequences (e.g. Messel and Baruth maars, Germany), confirming phreatomagmatic maar explosions as the origin of Laguna Potrok Aike.
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES I (2009-2013) > TOPIC 3: Lessons from the Past > WP 3.2: Tectonic, Climate and Biosphere Development from Greenhouse to Icehouse