SOTO Víctor, WELSH R. Carlos M., YOSHIKAWA Kenji, DELGADO GRANADOS Hugo. 2024: Freeze-thaw cycles and associated geomorphology in a post-glacial environment: current glacial, paraglacial, periglacial and proglacial scenarios at Pico de Orizaba volcano, Mexico. Journal of Mountain Science, 21(6): 1954-1977. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-024-8662-4
Citation: SOTO Víctor, WELSH R. Carlos M., YOSHIKAWA Kenji, DELGADO GRANADOS Hugo. 2024: Freeze-thaw cycles and associated geomorphology in a post-glacial environment: current glacial, paraglacial, periglacial and proglacial scenarios at Pico de Orizaba volcano, Mexico. Journal of Mountain Science, 21(6): 1954-1977. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-024-8662-4

Freeze-thaw cycles and associated geomorphology in a post-glacial environment: current glacial, paraglacial, periglacial and proglacial scenarios at Pico de Orizaba volcano, Mexico

  • The glacial history of Pico de Orizaba indicates that during the Last Glacial Maximum, its icecap covered up to ~3000 m asl; due to the air temperature increasing, its main glacier has retreated to 5050 m asl. The retraction of the glacier has left behind an intense climatic instability that causes a high frequency of freeze-thaw cycles of great intensity; the resulting geomorphological processes are represented by the fragmentation of the bedrock that occupies the upper parts of the mountain. There is a notable lack of studies regarding the fragmentation and erosion occurring in tropical high mountains, and the associated geomorphological risks; for this reason, as a first stage of future continuous research, this study analyzes the freezing and thawing cycles that occur above 4000 m asl, through continuous monitoring of surface ground temperature. The results allow us to identify and characterize four zones: glacial, paraglacial, periglacial and proglacial. It was found that the paraglacial zone presents an intense drop of temperature, of up to ~9℃ in only sixty minutes. The rock fatigue and intense freeze-thaw cycles that occur in this area are responsible for the high rate of rock disintegration and represent the main factor of the constant slope dynamics that occur at the site. This activity decreases, both in frequency and intensity, according to the distance to the glacier, which is where the temperature presents a certain degree of stability, until reaching the proglacial zone, where cycles are almost non-existent, and therefore there is no gelifraction activity. The geomorphological processes have resulted in significant alterations to the mountain slopes, which can have severe consequences in terms of risk and water.
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