A. L. Ahumada, G. Ibánez Palacios and S. Verónica Páez of the Institute of Quaternary Geology (Miguel Lillo Foundation, San Miguel de Tucumán) pursued their exploration and research of the cryogenic environment of Sierra de Aconquija with a special emphasis on fields of thufurs at 4200 m a.s.l. The same working group was the fi rst to document talus rock glaciers of glacigenic origin for Cumbres Calchaquíes (Province of Tucumán), which display active fronts from 4270 m a.s.l. on upwards. Their spatial extent is constrained by the climatic characteristics of the region.

On the western edge of the Puna, at the Nevados de Catreal, in the Province of Catamarca, a preliminary inventory of talus and glaciogenic rock glaciers has been elaborated. Rock glaciers in this region are found at elevations of 4254 - 4898 m a.s.l. Th ese newly discovered areas of rock glacier occurrence increase the knowledge about permafrost distribution of the intracontinental cryosphere in the northwest of Argentina.

During 2008, a joint research project focussing on Andean cryogenic environments was carried out in Argentina by the University of Salzburg (L. Schrott, Austria) and the Geocryology Research Unit of the IANIGLA (D. Trombotto, Mendoza). Th is research includes geophysical soundings with a variety of modern techniques (geoelectrics, ground penetrating radar) and were already carried out by a team of younger researchers (J. Götz, I. Hartmeyer and M. Keuschnig). In the framework of this project, research has begun at the Morenas Coloradas rock glacier and at Paso de Agua Negra (in the Province of San Juan) and students (from the National University of Cuyo, Mariano Castro and from the University of Bonn, Germany, J. H. Bloethe) have received research and professional training at the Geocryology Research Unit in Mendoza. These young researchers are working on periglacial environments in diff erent areas of the Central Andes and are concerned with mapping new areas aff ected by permafrost occurrence. This mapping task was extended to the Cordillera del Tigre in the north of the Province of Mendoza. Mapping permafrost there is particularly interesting because it displays an important rock glacier pattern similar to that mentioned for the Cordón del Plata.

Areas with palaeopermafrost in the northwest of the Province of Chubut, Patagonia, are being investigated by L. Ruiz (IANIGLA, Mendoza) in order to help reconstruct the palaeoclimate of the area. This research will be part of his doctoral thesis to be presented at the University of Buenos Aires.

As part of a new cooperation, the International Center of Earth Sciences (Malargüe, Mendoza), the IANIGLA (D. Trombotto) have been monitoring the volcano-cryogenic contact zone on the active volcano Peteroa, where glaciers retreated considerably due to the high geothermal gradient detected at the rims of the caldera. Permafrost occurrence is indicated by the presence of buried ice in numerous sites where deglaciation has taken place.  

A new joint research project (J. Ruzzante ICES and IANIGLA) about the geocryology of the Peteroa Volcano has been initiated to continue studying the area, mapping permafrost and linking the local cryospheric environment to present water supplies. The project includes the characterization of specific areas according to their vulnerability to volcanic risks and the infl uence of volcanic activity on periglacial environment with high-ice content. The latter is the subject of a master degree at the Unviersity of Cuyo (A. Ramires) in cooperation with the IANIGLA. Future joint research projects together with Germany (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Brazil (National Observatory of Rio de Janeiro) have been presented this year. They focus on this study area in order to better understand the evolution of periglacial processes in the context of global warming and to measure permafrost or ice thickness using radar equipment.

Active layer monitoring of new sites underlain by permafrost (D. Trombotto) has been initiated in Morenas Coloradas (Balcón I Superior) where the permafrost table lies at approximately the 5.5 m depth (corroborated by GPR) and in the south of the Province of San Juan, in the valley of the river Pachón, at 31° 44´S, close to the border between Chile and the Province of Mendoza. The nearby Cerro Mercedario with a height of 6770 m a.s.l. is glaciated. The valleys that are monitored do not exhibit glaciers, but have a great variety of subterranean types of ice associated with landforms such as rock glaciers and cryogenic sedimentary slopes with the occurrence of supersaturated gelifl uction in ice. 

A. Brenning (University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) and visiting student G. Azócar from Universidad de Chile are currently investigating the distribution and signifi cance of rock glaciers in the dry Andes of northcentral Chile between 27° and 33°S in collaboration with F. Escobar from the Dirección General de Aguas, Santiago, Chile. Th e water equivalent of rock glaciers exceeds the amount of water stored in glaciers across great parts of the study area. The impact of mining on rock glaciers in the Los Pelambres mine is another issue that is being addressed. First results have been presented at the 4th Alexander von Humboldt Conference in Santiago (November 2008). The Argentine Subcommission of Cryospheric Sciences (ASCS) was founded during the year 2008 and D. Trombotto was nominated president. J. C. Leiva (Glaciology, IANIGLA, Mendoza) and S. Barreira (Antarctic Sea Ice, Servicio Meteorológico de la Armada Argentina, Buenos Aires) are members of the Executive Committee.

Dario Trombotto (dtrombot@lab.cricyt.edu.ar)