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Late Quaternary paleoclimatic and geomorphological evolution at the interface between the Menyuan basin and the Qilian Mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Xianyan Wang*
School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, MOE Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China Institute of Earth Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dimitri Vandenberghe
Department of Geology and Soil Science, Laboratory of Mineralogy and Petrology (Luminescence Research Group), Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281 (S8), B-9000 Gent, Belgium
Shuangwen Yi
School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, MOE Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Jef Vandenberghe
School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, MOE Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China Institute of Earth Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Huayu Lu
School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, MOE Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Ronald Van Balen
Institute of Earth Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Peter Van den Haute
Department of Geology and Soil Science, Laboratory of Mineralogy and Petrology (Luminescence Research Group), Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281 (S8), B-9000 Gent, Belgium
*Corresponding author at: School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, MOE Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China. Fax: + 86 25 83686740. E-mail (X. Wang), (J. Vandenberghe).


The Tibetan Plateau is regarded as an amplifier and driver of environmental change in adjacent regions because of its extent and high altitude. However, reliable age control for paleoenvironmental information on the plateau is limited. OSL appears to be a valid method to constrain the age of deposits of glacial and fluvial origin, soils and periglacial structures in the Menyuan basin on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. Dating results show glaciers advanced extensively to the foot of the Qilian mountains at ~ 21 ka, in agreement with the timing of the global Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) recorded in Northern Hemisphere ice cores. Comparison with results from the eastern Tibetan Plateau suggests that the factor controlling glacial advance in both regions was decreased temperature, not monsoon-related precipitation increase. The areas of the Menyuan basin occupied by glacio-fluvial deposits experienced continuous permafrost during the LGM, indicated by large cryoturbation features, interpreted to indicate that the mean annual temperature was ≥ 7 °C lower than at present. Glacio-fluvial systems in the Menyuan basin aggraded and terraces formed during cold periods (penultimate glaciation, LGM, and possibly the Younger Dryas) as a response to increased glacial sediment production and meltwater runoff then.

Original Articles
University of Washington

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