PALCACOCHA  // Glaciar lake // 4,566 m
PERU, Ancash region.


The planet is warming and the glaciers are retreating; especially fast in the Cordillera Blanca, which is home to more than 40% of Peru's glacier surface. The glacier mass shrinks, like a receding river, exerting great pressure on the underlying rocky surface, causing slow, erosive erosion. Over time they give rise to extensive crevices carved into the earth. Abandoned furrows, which fill with melting ice and become glacial lakes, retained by moraines. Barriers composed of stone, sand and mud, which function as dikes.

When these lakes fill up too much, exceeding their retention capacity, the stability of the lagoon is put at risk. The moraines can collapse, yielding to pressure or overflowing, releasing massive volumes of water that cause sudden and usually catastrophic floods. These glacial lake outburst floods are known as GLOFs (Glacier Lake Outburst Floods).


AEighty years after the 1941 flood, this PALCACOCHA lake is still a pending issue for the city of Huaraz. A time bomb lodged at 4566 m.a.s.l., under the summits of the snow-capped mountains Palcaraju and Pucaranra, in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca, in Peru. In the last 40 years, the volume of the lagoon has increased 34 times. After the fateful flood, Palcacocha was left with only 500,000 cubic meters of water, today it exceeds 17 million.