MALADETA

Location of current glaciers (2006):
1.12a) Gl. Occ. of the Maladeta
1.12b) Gl. Or. of the Maladeta
1.13) Gl. of the Aneto
1.14) Gl. of Barrancs
1.15a) Gl. Occ. of Tempestades
1.16) Gl-hel. of Crowns
The glacial perimeters in 1981 are included as a reference.

Nº ref. Aparato Categoría
Ext. 1981 (ha)
Ext. 2006 (ha)
Orien.
Alt. Media 1981
Alt. Media 2006
1.12 Maladeta Glaciar
48,90
N
3.051
1.12a Occ. Maladeta Glaciar
6,22
N
3.060
1.12b Or. Maladeta Glaciar.
31,51
N
3.078
1.13 Aneto Glaciar
106,77
69,10
NE
3.101
3.139
1.14 Barrancs Glaciar
22,49
7,12
NE
3.080
3.166
1.15 Tempestades Glaciar
28,79
NE
2.928
1.15a Occ. Tempestades Glaciar
9.30
N
2.970
1.16 Coronas Glac.-Hel.
10,57
2,49
SO
3.081
3.168

The best preserved and largest glacial complex in the Pyrenees is located in the valley of the Ésera river or Benasque (marginally includes the valley of Salenques, which flows into the basin of the Noguera Ribagorzana), within the Maladeta massif. The core of the massif is built in the crystalline materials of the Maladeta, an igneous body elongated in the E-O direction, composed of homogeneous masses of granodiorite that, in the area of ​​ridges, usually become granites, more resistant to erosion. The hardness and massiveness of these materials give the massif its particular morphology, with generalized elevations above three thousand meters (Aneto, 3,404 m, Pico Maldito, 3,350 m, Maladeta, 3,308 m, Alba, 3,118 m, Tempestades, 3,278 m ; Pico Russell, 3,205 m) and strong relief energies between the cimeros cresteríos and the bottoms of the secondary valleys (Cregüeña, Barrancs, Coronas, etc.), often carved from the dense network of fracturing that crosses the massif. The morphostructural disposition of the area (NO-SE), has determined, as in the case of Hells or Monte Perdido, a favorable orientation to the NE for most of the glacier devices now cataloged in the sector; only the glacier-helero de Coronas is oriented to the SW, in difficult conditions of conservation.

The western and eastern glaciers of the Maladeta glacier, the Aneto glacier, the Barrancs glacier, the Western Tempestades glacier and the small glaciar-helero de Coronas are located in the massif, at an altitude of 2,800 meters above sea level. . These categories are maintained since the last specific inventory made for the area, in which the volume and glacier surface losses during the period 1981 / 1999-2005 were analyzed.

The western glacier of the Maladeta shows an increasingly degraded aspect, tending to become a static iceberg soon (only cracks can be seen on its eastern margin). The Oriental glacier, on the other hand, still exhibits an appreciable dynamism, with the development of longitudinal and transversal traction cracks of metric width and depth in its proximal and middle sections (although the loss of thickness in its central lobe is very evident). The presence of a debris cover is becoming visible on many areas of the Western glacier and, more punctually, frequently associated with clash leaks and rocky landslides from the crest of the Portillones, on the distal perimeter and the eastern end of the Oriental apparatus. .

The Aneto glacier still has a dynamic aspect in some stretches (proximal zone), but its recent deterioration has been very important: the separation of its two main lobes and the isolation of the highest and eastern sector (under Punta Oliveras) could occur in few years. The spatial patterns of retreat can be seen very clearly, as the glacier loses its thickness, the important influence exerted by the preferred fracturing lines present in the circus: in some sections the glacier retreats on the surface and fragments strictly following those reticles, probably due to processes of over-accumulation or circulation of fusion water subglacially along these lines, which act as small topographic steps (this fact is very evident in the eastern lobe, which is degrading more accentuated).

The Barrancs glacier maintains some transverse cracks in its proximal part, of very shallow depth and associated with the steep slopes of that section of the glacier box, but it has experienced a strong loss of thickness in recent years that bring it closer to the status of helero. Noteworthy is the gradual development of a layer of debris covering the most distal and central part of the apparatus.

The dynamism of the western glacier of Tempestades is currently very low, although longitudinal and transverse traction cracks are still observable in it (especially in the westernmost part of the apparatus). A relatively powerful debris cover begins to be observed already in different sectors of the glacier.

Finally, the small glacier-helero of Coronas maintains a practically null dynamic, although it still presents on the surface some cracks of traction of depth and length very reduced. In this case, too, we can see the presence of relatively powerful washout layers, associated with the falling of blocks from the nearby glacier box and the extrusion of englacial material, located in the distal area of ​​the apparatus, mainly at its southernmost end.

Since 1981, the evolution of surface extension has been clearly regressive in all apparatuses and, in some, particularly dramatic: 1) the western and eastern glaciers of the Maladeta formed a single glacier in 1981, with an area of ​​48.90 ha (100%) that has been reduced to 37.73 ha (the sum of the two current fragments: Occidental de la Maladeta, 6.22 ha, Oriental de la Maladeta, 31.51 ha) (77.1% of its extension) initial); its DAM is +18 m (in this case, this parameter has been calculated by averaging the current altitudinal values ​​of the two glaciers and comparing this data with the altitude value of the glacier in 1981); 2) the Aneto glacier occupied an area of ​​106.77 ha (100%), which has been reduced to 69.10 ha (64.7% of its initial extension); the registered DAM has been +38 m; 3) the Barrancs glacier went from 22.49 ha (100%) to 7.12 ha (31.6% of its initial extension); its DAM is +86 m; 4) the western glacier of Tempestades has gone from 28.79 ha (100%) to 9.30 ha (32.3% of its initial extension); its DAM is +42 m; 5) the glaciar-helero de Coronas has been reduced in size from 10.57 ha (100%) in 1981 to the current 2.49 ha (23.5% of its original length); the registered DAM was +87 m.

The total current extent of ice in the massif, 125.74 ha, represents 52.2% of the existing in 1981 (240.62 ha, 23.1 ha have been added corresponding to the already discontinued Alba appliances, Western and Eastern Salenques, Western and Eastern Cregüeña and Llosás), ranking fourth among the four clumps analyzed in this work in the percentage of surface loss. The annual rate of surface loss for the massif is 4.59 ha a-1, and its DAM, of +54.2 m. It remains framed in the category of massifs with authentic large glaciers