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The Las Salinas palaeo-lagoon in the Sechura Desert (Peru): Evolution during the last two millennia

Abstract : The Sechura Desert provides a unique example of a vast palaeo-lagoon system on the Peruvian coast that was active during the first millennium AD. Reconstruction of coastal evolution is made possible by the good resolution of the sedimentary records of the Las Salinas Noroeste coastal plain. Evidence from morphostratigraphy and sedimentary facies indicates marked environmental diversity between the 3rd and the 8th centuries AD and a wide variability of sedimentary dynamics: lagoon foreshores received alternately fine distal marine sediments and coarser continental sediments in pro-deltaic sheets. Evaporation phases periodically occurred in these foreshores causing the formation of salt crusts. After a last high water level in the 8th century AD, the lagoon ultimately dried out and remains dry today. The malacofauna and sedimentary facies indicate that marine marshes bordered by vegetation, perhaps mangrove, developed in the higher parts of these lagoons. This palaeogeography is explained by the progressive build-up of a sand bar which started at least in the middle Holocene. From the 3rd to 8th centuries AD, the lagoon had limited connection to the sea in its northern end and hosted a warm-water and productive ecosystem that was exploited by pre-Hispanic populations. Wetter conditions in the Andes and occasional El Niño rainfalls maintained the lagoon during this period. The freshwater input likely stopped in the 8th century AD, which led to the closing of the shore bar under the influence of the longshore drift rapidly followed by the drying up of the lagoon, and the abandonment of the archaeological site.
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Contributor : Aurelien Christol <>
Submitted on : Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 5:48:04 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 30, 2020 - 10:26:04 AM



Aurelien Christol, Wuscher Patrice, Nicolas Goepfert, Mogollon Valentin, Béarez Philippe, et al.. The Las Salinas palaeo-lagoon in the Sechura Desert (Peru): Evolution during the last two millennia. The holocene, London: Sage, 2017, 27 (1), pp.26-38. ⟨10.1177/0959683616646182⟩. ⟨hal-01333052⟩



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