DOI: 10.1002/ldr.4968 ISSN: 1085-3278

The mid‐latitude hydrolaccolith of the Spanish Central System (Southern Europe): A top‐to‐bottom integration of geomatic, geophysical and sedimentary datasets for characterising a singular periglacial landform

Javier Fernández‐Lozano, Valentí Turu, Rosa M. Carrasco, Rodrigo L. Soteres, Jesús Sánchez‐Vizcaino, Theodoros Karampaglidis, Xavier Ros, Oscar Merlo, Javier Pedraza
  • Soil Science
  • General Environmental Science
  • Development
  • Environmental Chemistry


Permafrost study in the Spanish Central System (~41°N) has remained elusive in past decades. Although numerous periglacial features have been described, none has yielded conclusive information about the existence/distribution of permafrost across these mountains. This work focuses on integrating light detection and ranging and unmanned aerial vehicle data with geophysical methods and sedimentary records, along with preliminary thermal information, for the comprehensive study of a frost mound. The singularity of this feature resides in its location, currently dominated by a seasonal frost regime, and its size reaching 59 m long, 22.5 m wide and 4 m high, representing the largest landform of this type in Iberia. From top‐to‐bottom, the internal structure comprises three resistivity units (G1, G2 and G3). The most superficial unit (G1) consists of a sequence of burial soils alternating with sand and silts, with pebbles and gravel at the bottom, followed by a high porous layer that belongs to a landslide deposit (G2), likely composed of gravel and pebbles laying over unit G3 (bedrock). Calibrated 14C ages suggest this landform formed at least ~4300 years ago during the mid‐Holocene. Finally, the preliminary surface thermal map indicates the presence of sectors affected by strong thermal gradients likely driven by water table variations. Our results conclude that the dynamics are primarily controlled by the seasonal frost regime influencing local subsurface drainage, which allows us to classify this landform as a hydrodynamic pingo‐like structure. We also demonstrate that our approach is suitable for assessing the evolution of this type of periglacial landform. Implementing long‐lasting annual monitoring programmes would help to understand local periglacial dynamics better.

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