Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1336–1352 | Cite as

Glacier reconstruction of La Covacha Massif in Sierra de Gredos (central Spain) during the Last Glacial Maximum

  • Néstor CamposEmail author
  • David Palacios
  • Luis M. Tanarro


A paleoglacier reconstruction during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) is presented for a high mountain area of La Covacha massif in Sierra de Gredos (Iberian Central System) in central Spain. The moraines that, according with the previous literature, had formed during the global LGM, were mapped through photo interpretation of digital aerial photographs and 3D images and detailed field surveys. The topography of the paleoglaciers was estimated using a simple steady-state model that assumed a perfectly plastic ice rheology, reconstructing the theoretical ice profiles and obtaining the ice thickness of the glaciers during the LGM. The reconstruction of the glaciers was carried out using automated and semi-automated physically-based models, obtaining more realistic results with semi-automated models. According to our study, the paleoglaciers in the study area covered an area of 34.79 km2 during the global LGM, with a maximum ice thickness of 366 meters in La Vega gorge, a total volume of 34.25 × 108 m3 and a mean paleoELA of 1932 meters. Most of the ice (∼82%) was in paleoglaciers facing north, and the rest was in paleoglaciers with other orientations. This emphasizes the importance of orientation in relation to glacier dynamics and ice accumulation. The results obtained in the calculation of paleoELAs during the global LGM in Gredos are average compared to the Iberian mountains of the Northwest where the values were much lower, and with respect to those of the Southwest, much higher. This demonstrates the importance of the exposure of Mediterranean mountains to the humidity sources coming from the NW during the global LGM, as is the case at present.


Glacier reconstruction Paleoglacier Ice thickness Equilibrium line altitude Iberian Central System 


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This work was supported by the project MOUNTAIN WARMING (CGL2015-65813-R) (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness). The authors would like to thank to the anonymous reviewers and to the Professor Keith A. Brugger for their useful comments and suggestions that improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain

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