Weiland, Lelia-Mapping Glacial Moraines in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru (Dr. Carolyn Eyles)

Mapping Glacial Moraines in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru 

The purpose of this project is to investigate the form of moraines in the Cordillera Blanca,  Peru. Specifically,  moraines that impound glacial lakes will be examined as these have the potential to fail and produce glacial lake outburst floods. These moraines have an unstable structure and their associated glacial lakes are rimmed with melting glaciers prone to avalanching.  This combination of factors generates the potential for failure or overtopping of the lake dam and flow of water downslope. The city of Huaraz lies at the confluence of several valleys,  each of which hosts a moraine dammed glacial lake. This creates a serious problem as a glacial lake outburst flood has the potential to flood the entire city,  causing damage and loss of life. 

Using Google Earth data and images from previously glaciated valleys dissecting the Cordillera Blanca,  a selected number of these moraines were studied and analyzed using ArcGIS. The elevation,  height,  and width of individual moraines was delineated and recorded. Shapefiles were created from this information and used to annotate a map of the area. 

This information will be useful to future studies,  as it allows visualization of the variation in moraine location,  form,  and size and provides easy access to encoded data. Additionally,  this study allows comparison of the form of moraines in different regions of the Cordillera Blanca and a better understanding of the potential stability of these moraines. This in turn will allow prediction of possible future glacial lake outburst floods,  potentially saving many lives.