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Southern Patagonian Ice Field

The Southern Patagonia Ice Field , located at the Southern Patagonic Andes between Argentina and Chile, is the second largest contiguous extrapolar extent of ice (ice field) in the world. It is the bigger of two remnant parts of the Patagonian Ice Sheet, which covered all of southern Chile during the Last glacial period, locally called the Llanquihue glaciation.


The Southern Patagonian Ice Field extends from parallels 48 20 S to 51 30 S for approximately 350 kilometres, and has an area of 16,800 km, of which roughly 14,000 km fall within Chile and 2,500 km within Argentina.

The ice mass feeds dozens of glaciers in the area, among which are the Upsala , Viedma and Perito Moreno in the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, and the Pio XI Glacier or Bruggen Glacier , O'Higgins , Grey and Tyndall in Chile. The glaciers going to the west flow into the fjords of the Patagonian channels of the Pacific Ocean; those going to the East flow into the Patagonian lakes Viedma and Argentino, and eventually, through the rivers de la Leona and Santa Cruz, to the Atlantic Ocean.

An important part of the ice field is protected under different national parks, such as the Bernardo O'Higgins and Torres del Paine in Chile, and the aforementioned Los Glaciares in Argentina.

There are several volcanoes under the glaciers, such as Lautaro Volcano.


Thorough explorations include the expeditions of Federico Reichert (1913-1914), Alberto de Agostini (1931), and Harold William Tilman and Jorge Quinteros (1955-1956); as well as Eric Shipton (1960-61). First full (North-South) crossing of the field was accomplished in 1998 by Pablo Besser, Mauricio Rojas, Jose Montt and Rodrigo Fica. Nevertheless some areas of the field remain largely unexplored

From the air, initial exploration was conducted in 1928-9 by Gunther Pluschow after whom a glacier is named. It was further studied in 1943 by aerial photographs made by the United States Air Force on request of the Chilean government.


Fifty kilometers of the ChileArgentina border, between Mount Fitzroy and Cerro Murallon, remain undefined, on the ice field.

This Southern Patagonian Ice Field section of the border is the last remaining border issue between Chile and Argentina. In 1991 the governments of Chile and Argentina agreed on a borderline, but the agreement was never ratified by the Argentine parliament. Later, in 1998, both governments explicitly agreed that the line would run along the the high peaks and watershed (as specified in their 1941 treaty) northward from Cerro Murallon to a point on a line of latitude due west of "Point B" that was specified in the 1998 agreement a few km southwest of Mt. Fitzroy. However, they also agreed that final demarcation and exact location of the line there would wait until completion of a detailed 1:50,000 scale map of the area and further negotiations. To date, this one section remains the final non-concluded boundary section and an occasional irritant in Argentina-Chile relations.

In 2006 the Argentine Instituto Geografico Militar (IGM) edited a map without a note on the region, instead drawing Argentine claims to the official borderline. After Chilean diplomatic protests the Argentine government withdrew the map and urged Chile to expedite the demarcation of the international border that was already established by both countries in the 1881 treaty.

In January 2008, technicians of both countries began the final demarcation of the border.

See also

Northern Patagonian Ice Field

List of glaciers

Argentina-Chile relations

External links

Expedicion Transpatagonia 2007, Campo de Hielo Patagonico Sur. Primera exploracion historica del Cordon del Gaviotin y del Lago Greve

in the SP Ice Field


Subsecretario argentino de turismo dice que mapa de Campos de Hielo es oficial "El Mercurio", Chile 29 August 2006

Hielos Continentales: reclamo de Chile por los mapas argentinos Clarin, Argentina 29 August 2006

Tras la friccion por los Hielos Continentales, la Argentina llama a Chile a demarcar los limites "lo antes posible" Clarin, 30 August 1996

Zoff um jeden Meter Eis Condor, Chile 8 September 2006 (German Language)

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Southern Patagonian Ice Field

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