Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 253–266 | Cite as

Climate oscillations evidenced by spectral analysis of Southern Chilean lacustrine sediments: the assessment of ENSO over the last 600 years

  • N. Fagel
  • X. Boës
  • M. F. Loutre
Original Paper


The Chilean Lake District (38–42°S) is strongly influenced by Southern westerlies-driven precipitations. At 40°S Lago Puyehue provides high resolution sedimentation rates (∼1–2 mm/yr) suitable for annual climate reconstruction. Several short and long sediment cores were collected in this lake. Their analysis aim at a better understanding of climate mechanisms related to ENSO in this part of the world. The recognition of ENSO related periodicities and their stability is studied through the analysis of two short varved cores collected from underflow and interflow key sites. According to varve chronology controlled by 137Cs and 210Pb profiles and chronostratigraphical markers, the short core from underflow site (PU-I) spans 294 ± 18 years and the core in the interflow site (PU-II) covers 592 ± 9 years. Several methods of spectral analysis were applied on the total varve thickness to identify potential periodicities in the signal. Blackman–Tuckey, Maximum Entropy, Multi-Taper Methods (MTM) and singular spectrum analysis were applied on the whole record. In addition, evolutive MTM and wavelet analyses allow to identify temporal influence of some periodicities. In the PU-I studied interval (AD 1700–2000), a period at ∼3.0 years appears in a large part of the interval, mostly in the recent part. Periods at ∼5.2 and ∼23 years also show up. PU-II record (AD 1400–2000) displays the most robust periodicities at around 15, 9, 4.4, 3.2 and 2.4 years. These periodicities are in good agreement with the sub-decadal periods identified by Dean and Kemp (2004) and linked to the El Nino Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Differences in the recorded periodicities between PU-I and PU-II sites are consistent with different sedimentation processes in the lake. According to climate instrumental data for the last 20 years, varves in PU-I site are mostly related to fluvial dynamics and regional climate factors, i.e., precipitation, temperature and wind. In PU-II site, varves increment is related to both regional and global climate forcing factors, i.e., El Nino Southern Oscillation. The evolutive MTM analysis and the wavelet analysis suggest a striking break in the periodicities at around AD 1820. Finally relationships between El Nino and longer term climate phase like the Little Ice Age (LIA) are also assessed.


El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Spectral analysis Lacustrine sediment Varve Chile Last millennium Little Ice Age 



We particularly thank M. De Batist and E. Chapron that initiated the ENSO-Chile project. C. Beck, F. Arnaud, F. Charlet, V. Lignier, A. Pena, W. San Martin and R. Urrutia are acknowledged for technical and logistic support in Chile. We thanks M. Sterken, S. Bertrand and V. Lourdes for interactive discussions leading to a better understanding of sediment deposition in Lago Puyehue. X. Boës benefits from a PhD FRIA-FNRS grant. This work was funded by Belgian Federal Office OSTC within the framework of ENSO-Chile project (EV12/10B).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeologyURAPLiegeBelgium
  2. 2.Institut d’Astronomie et de Géophysique G. LemaîtreUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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