Skip to main content Accessibility help

Geochemical and grain-size evidence for the provenance of loess deposits in the Central Shandong Mountains region, northern China

  • Shuzhen Peng (a1) (a2), Qingzhen Hao (a2), Luo Wang (a2), Min Ding (a1), Wei Zhang (a1) (a2), Yanan Wang (a1) and Zhengtang Guo (a2)...


Widespread loess deposits in the Central Shandong Mountains yield valuable paleoclimatic records for this currently semi-humid monsoonal region of northern China. The grain-size distribution and major element composition for bulk samples and two grain-size fractions (< 20 and 20–63 μm) for the loess in the Central Shandong Mountains were compared with loess from the Chinese Loess Plateau and sediment from the Yellow River to help determine its provenance. The presence of a significant percentage of medium- and coarse-silt, and the difference in relatively immobile major element ratios of TiO2/Al2O3 and K2O/Al2O3 for the < 20 and 20–63 μm fractions, suggests that sediment that forms the loess deposits in the Central Shandong Mountains was not blown directly from the northern deserts of China as is the case for the loess deposits of the Chinese Loess Plateau. Rather, this suggests that sediments exposed during glacial times on the North China fluvial plain, including the floodplain of the Yellow River, were the major dust source for the loess in the Central Shangong Mountains. In addition, the wide distribution of perimontane loess in the Central Shandong Mountains region indicates the occurrence of strengthened local aridification during glacial times since the middle Pleistocene.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Fax: +86 10 62010846. E-mail address: (Q. Hao).


Hide All
An, F.Y., Ma, H.Z., Wei, H.C., and Lai, Z.P. (2012). Distinguishing aeolian signature from lacustrine sediments of the Qaidam Basin in northeastern Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau and its palaeoclimatic implications. Aeolian Research 4, 1730.
Biscaye, P.E., Grousset, F.E., Revel, M., Van der Gaast, S., Zielinski, G.A., Vaars, A., and Kukla, G. (1997). Asian provenance of last glacial maximum dust in the GISP2 ice core, summit, Greenland. Journal of Geophysical Research 102, 2676526781.
Broecker, W.S., and Peng, T.H. (1982). Tracers in the Sea. Eldigio Press, New York.
Buggle, B., Glaser, B., Hambach, U., Gerasimenko, N., and Marković, S. (2011). An evaluation of geochemical weathering indices in loess–paleosol studies. Quaternary International 240, 1221.
Cao, J.X., Li, P.Y., and Shi, N. (1988). Study on the loess of Miaodao Islands in Shandong Province. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences 31, 120128.
Cox, R., Lowe, D.R., and Cullers, R.L. (1995). The influence of sediment recycling and basement composition on evolution of mudrock chemistry in the southwestern United-States. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 59, 29192940.
Deer, W.A., Howie, R.A., and Zussman, J. (1966). An Introduction to the Rock Forming Minerals. Longman, London.
Derbyshire, E., Meng, X., and Kemp, R.A. (1998). Provenance, transport and characteristics of modern aeolian dust in western Gansu Province, China, and interpretation of the Quaternary loess record. Journal of Arid Environments 39, 497516.
Ding, Z.L., Derbyshire, E., Yang, S.L., Sun, J.M., and Liu, T.S. (2005). Stepwise expansion of desert environment across northern China in the past 3.5 Ma and implications for monsoon evolution. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 237, 4555.
Fang, X.M., Shi, Z.T., Yang, S.L., Yan, M.D., Li, J.J., and Jiang, P.A. (2002). Loess in the Tian Shan and its implications for the development of the Gurbantunggut Desert and drying of northern Xinjiang. Chinese Science Bulletin 47, 13811387.
Feng, J.L., Hu, Z.G., Ju, J.T., and Zhu, L.P. (2011). Variations in trace element (including rare earth element) concentrations with grain sizes in loess and their implications for tracing the provenance of eolian deposits. Quaternary International 236, 116126.
Gu, Z. (1999). Weathering histories of Chinese dust deposits based on uranium and thorium series nuclides, cosmogenic10Be, and major elements.(Ph.D. Thesis)Institute of Geology and Geophysics Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.(in Chinese, with English Abstract)
Guan, Q., Pan, B., Gao, H., Li, N., Zhang, H., and Wang, P. (2008). Geochemical evidence of the Chinese loess provenance during the Late Pleistocene. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 270, 5358.
Guo, Z., Biscaye, P., Wei, L., Chen, X., Peng, S., and Liu, T. (2000). Summer monsoon variations over the last 1.2 Ma from the weathering of loess–soil sequences in China. Geophysical Research Letters 27, 17511754.
Guo, Z.T., Peng, S.Z., Hao, Q.Z., Biscaye, P.E., and Liu, T.S. (2001). Origin of the Miocene–Pliocene red-earth formation at Xifeng in northern China and implications for paleoenvironments. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 170, 1126.
Guo, Z.T., Peng, S.Z., Hao, Q.Z., Biscaye, P.E., An, Z.S., and Liu, T.S. (2004). Late Miocene–Pliocene development of Asian aridification as recorded in an eolian sequence in northern China. Global and Planetary Change 41, 135145.
Hao, Q.Z., and Guo, Z.T. (2005). Spatial variations of magnetic susceptibility of Chinese loess for the last 600 ka: implications for monsoon evolution. Journal of Geophysical Research 110, B1210110.1029/2005JB003765
Hao, Q.Z., Guo, Z.T., Qiao, Y.S., Xu, B., and Oldfield, F. (2010). Geochemical evidence for the provenance of middle Pleistocene loess deposits in southern China. Quaternary Science Reviews 29, 33173326.
Hao, Q.Z., Wang, L., Oldfield, F., Peng, S.Z., Qin, L., Song, Y., Xu, B., Qiao, Y.S., Bloemendal, J., and Guo, Z.T. (2012). Delayed build-up of Arctic ice sheets during 400,000-year minima in insolation variability. Nature 490, 393396.
Hovan, S.A., Rea, D.K., Pisias, N.G., and Shackleton, N.J. (1989). A direct link between the China loess and marine δ18O records: aeolian flux to the north Pacific. Nature 340, 296298.
Israel, M.B., Enzel, Y., Amit, R., and Erel, Y. (2015). Provenance of the various grain-size fractions in the Negev loess and potential changes in major dust sources to the Eastern Mediterranean. Quaternary Research 83, 105115.
Jahn, B.M., Gallet, S., and Han, J.M. (2001). Geochemistry of the Xining, Xifeng and Jixian sections, Loess Plateau of China: eolian dust provenance and paleosol evolution during the last 140 ka. Chemical Geology 178, 7194.
Jia, Y.L., Lai, Z.P., Zhang, J.R., Peng, X.M., Zhang, B., Zhang, Z., and Wang, P.L. (2012). Chronology and provenance of aeolian sediments from Poyang Lake area in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River in China. Quaternary Geochronology 10, 4449.
Ju, L.X., Wang, H.J., and Jiang, D.B. (2007). Simulation of the Last Glacial Maximum climate over East Asia with a regional climate model nested in a general circulation model. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 248, 376390.
Kapp, P., Pelletier, J.D., Rohrmann, A., Heermance, R., Russell, J., and Ding, L. (2011). Wind erosion in the Qaidam basin, central Asia: implications for tectonics, paleoclimate, and the source of the Loess Plateau. GSA Today 21, 4/510.1130/GSATG99A.1
Konert, M., and Vandenberghe, J. (1997). Comparison of laser grain size analysis with pipette and sieve analysis: a solution for the underestimation of the clay fraction. Sedimentology 44, 523535.
Lai, Z.P. (2014). Was the enclosed Qaidam Basin in the Tibetan plateau accumulative or erosive during the Late Quaternary: a case study on the shell bar?. ActaGeologicaSinica 88, supp. 114(English edition)
Lai, Z.P., Mischke, S., and Madsen, D. (2014). Paleoenvironmental implications of new OSL dates on the formation of the "ShellBar" in the Qaidam Basin, northeastern Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Paleolimnology 51, 197210.
Li, Y.H. (2000). A Compendium of Geochemistry: From Solar Nebula to the Human Brain. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Li, J., Wang, L., Zhao, H., and Liu, T.S. (2002). The significance of foraminifera from loess along the coast of Bohai sea for paleowind directions. ActaGeologica Sinica 76, 409412.(in Chinese, with English Abstract)
Li, G.J., Chen, J., Chen, Y., Yang, J.D., Ji, J.F., and Liu, L.W. (2007). Dolomite as a tracer for the source regions of Asian dust. Journal of Geophysical Research 112, D1720110.1029/2007JD008676
Li, Y.S., Chen, J.Q., Zhao, S., Wang, H.Y., and Li, X. (2011). Sporopollen assemblages in Tangshan area since late Pleistocene with a correlation to those in adjacent areas. ActaGeoscientica Sinica 32, 2 178188.(in Chinese, with English Abstract)
Liang, M.Y., Guo, Z.T., Kahmann, A., and Oldfield, F. (2009). Geochemical characteristics of the Miocene eolian deposits in China: their provenance and climate implications. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 10, Q0400410.1029/2008GC002331
Liu, T.S. (1985). Loess and Environment. China Ocean Press, Beijing.1251.
Liu, L.J., Li, P.Y., and Wang, Y.J. (2000). The grain-size properties and genesis of the loess in central Shandong province. Marine Geology & Quaternary Geology 20, 1 8186.(in Chinese, with English Abstract)
Liu, F., Li, G.J., and Chen, J. (2014). U–Pb ages of zircon grains reveal a proximal dust source of the Xiashu loess, Lower Yangtze River region, China. Chinese Science Bulletin 59, 20 23912395.10.1007/s11434-014-0318-2
Lu, H.Y., and Sun, D.H. (2000). Pathways of dust input to the Chinese Loess Plateau during the last glacial and interglacial periods. Catena 40, 251261.
Marković, S.B., Bokhorst, M.P., Vandenberghe, J., McCoy, W.D., Oches, E.A., Hambach, U., Gaudenyi, T., Jovanović, M., Zöller, L., Stevens, T., and Machalett, B. (2007). Late Pleistocene loess–palaeosol sequences in the Vojvodina region, north Serbia. Journal of Quaternary Science 23, 7384.
McLennan, S.M. (2001). Relationships between the trace element composition of sedimentary rocks and upper continental crust. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 2, 4 102110.1029/2000GC000109
Muhs, D., and Bettis, E. (2000). Geochemical variations in Peoria Loess of western Iowa indicate paleowinds of midcontinental North America during last glaciation. Quaternary Research 53, 4961.
Muhs, D.R., Stafford, T.W., Cowherd, S.D., Mahan, S.A., Kihl, R., Maat, P.B., Bush, C.A., and Nehring, J. (1996). Origin of the late Quaternary dune fields of northeastern Colorado. Geomorphology 17, 129149.
Nesbitt, H.W., and Young, G.M. (1982). Early Proterozoic climates and plate motions inferred from major element chemistry of lutites. Nature 299, 715717.
Nesbitt, H.W., Markovices, G., and Price, R.C. (1980). Chemical processes affecting alkalis and alkaline earths during continental weathering. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 44, 16591666.
Nie, J.S., Stevens, T., Rittner, M., Stockli, D., Garzanti, E., Limonta, M., Bird, A., Andò, S., Vermeesch, P., Saylor, J., Lu, H., Breecker, Y., Hu, D., Liu, X.F., Resentini, S.P., Vezzoli, A., Peng, G., Carter, W.B., Ji, A., Pan, S.C., B.T., (2015). Loess Plateau storage of Northeastern Tibetan Plateau-derived Yellow River sediment. Nature Communications 6, 851110.1038/ncomms 9511
Peng, S.Z., and Guo, Z.T. (2001). Geochemical indicator of original eolian grain size and implications on winter monsoon evolution. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences 44, Suppl. 261266.
Peng, S.Z., Gao, Z.D., Wu, X.P., Zhang, L.B., and Liang, M.Y. (2007). Grain-size distribution and genesis of loess in the Qingzhou area, Shandong. Journal of Geomechanics 13, 4 315321.(in Chinese, with English Abstract)
Peng, S.Z., Zhu, L.J., Xiao, G.Q., Qiao, Y.S., Gao, Z.D., and Chen, D.D. (2011). Magnetostratigraphy and provenance of the Qingzhou loess in Shandong province. Journal of Arid Land 3, 3 184190.
Pullen, A., Kapp, P., McCallister, A.T., Chang, H., Gehrels, G.E., Garzione, C.N., Heermance, R.V., and Ding, L. (2011). Qaidam Basin and northern Tibetan Plateau as dust sources for the Chinese Loess Plateau and paleoclimatic implications. Geology 39, 11 10311034.
Pye, K. (1995). The nature, origin and accumulation of loess. Quaternary Science Reviews 14, 653667.
Qiao, Y.S., Hao, Q.Z., Peng, S.S., Wang, Y., Li, J.W., and Liu, Z.X. (2011). Geochemical characteristics of the eolian deposits in southern China, and their implications for provenance and weathering intensity. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 308, 513523.
Qiao, Y.S., Qi, L., Liu, Z.X., Wang, Y., Yao, H.T., Yang, J., and Zhao, Z.Z. (2014). Intensification of aridity in the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau since 300 ka BP inferred from loess–soil sequences, western Sichuan Province, southwest China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 414, 192199.
Sheldon, N.D., and Tabor, N.J. (2009). Quantitative paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstruction using paleosols. Earth Science Reviews 95, 152.
Song, Y.G., Lai, Z.P., Li, Y., Chen, T., and Wang, Y.X. (2015). Comparison between luminescence and radiocarbon dating of Late Quaternary loess from the Ili Basin in central Asia. Quaternary Geochronology 30, 405410.
Stevens, T., Carter, A., Watson, T.P., Vermeesch, P., Andò, S., Bird, A.F., Lu, H., Garzanti, E., Cottamf, M.A., and Sevastjanova, I. (2013). Genetic linkage between the Yellow River, the Mu Us desert and the Chinese Loess Plateau. Quaternary Science Reviews 78, 355368.
Sugitani, K., Horiuchi, Y., Adachi, M., and Sugisaki, R. (1996). Anomalously low Al2O3/TiO2 values for Archean cherts from the Pilbara Block, Western Australia — possible evidence for extensive chemical weathering on the early earth. Precambrian Research 80, 4976.
Sun, J.M. (2002). Provenance of loess material and formation of loess deposits on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 203, 845859.
Sun, Y., Chen, H., Tada, R., Weiss, D., Lin, M., Toyoda, S., Yan, Y., and Isozaki, Y. (2013). ESR signal intensity and crystallinity of quartz from Gobi and sandy deserts in East Asia and implication for tracing Asian dust provenance. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 14, 26152627.
Taylor, S.R., and McLennan, S.M. (1985). The Continental Crust: Its Composition and Evolution. Blackwells, Oxford.
Tong, G.B., Zhang, J.P., Yan, F.H., and Mai, X.S. (1991). Sporo-pollen sequence and division of climatic period in the earth north China Plain since last Pleistocene. Seismology and Geology 13, 3 259268.(in Chinese, with English Abstract)
Tsoar, H., and Pye, K. (1987). Dust transport and the question of desert loess formation. Sedimentology 34, 139153.
Újvári, G., Varga, A., and Balogh-Brunstad, Z. (2008). Origin, weathering, and geochemical composition of loess in southwestern Hungary. Quaternary Research 69, 421437.
Újvári, G., Klötzli, U., Kiraly, F., and Ntaflos, T. (2013). Towards identifying the origin of metamorphic components in Austrian loess: insights from detrital rutile chemistry, thermometry and U–Pb geochronology. Quaternary Science Reviews 75, 132142.
Újvári, G., Varga, A., Raucsik, B., and János, K. (2014). The Paksloess–paleosol sequence: A record of chemical weathering and provenance for the last 800 ka in the mid-Carpathian Basin. Quaternary International 319, 2237.
Wang, Z.T., and Lai, Z.P. (2014). A theoretical model on the relation between wind speed and grain size in dust transportation and its paleoclimatic implications. Aeolian Research 13, 105108.
Wang, Z.T., Lai, Z.P., and Qu, J.J. (2015). Inverted relief landforms in the Kumtagh Desert of northwestern China: a mechanism to estimate wind erosion rates. Geological Journal10.1002/gj.2739
Yang, S.L., and Ding, Z.L. (2008). Advance–retreat history of the East-Asian summer monsoon rainfall belt over northern China during the last two glacial–interglacial cycles. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 274, 499510.
Yang, D., Han, H., Zhou, L., and Fang, Y. (1991). Eolian deposit and environmental change of middle–late Pleistocene in Xuancheng, Anhui Province south of the lower reaches of the Changjiang River. Marine Geology & Quaternary Geology 11, 97104.(in Chinese, with English Abstract)
Yang, X.P., Liu, Y.S., Li, C.Z., Song, Y.L., Zhu, H.P., and Jin, X.D. (2007a). )Rare earth elements of aeolian deposits in Northern China and their implications for determining the provenance of dust storms in Beijing. Geomorphology 87, 365377.
Yang, X.P., Zhu, B.Q., and White, P.D. (2007b). )Provenance of aeolian sediment in the Taklamakan Desert of western China, inferred from REE and major-elemental data. Quaternary International 175, 7185.
Yang, S.L., Fang, X.M., Shi, Z.T., Lehmkuhl, F., Song, C.H., Han, Y.X., and Han, W.X. (2010). Timing and provenance of loess in the Sichuan Basin, southwestern China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 292, 144154.
Yang, X.P., Scuderi, L., Paillou, P., Liu, Z.T., Li, H.W., and Ren, X.Z. (2011). Quaternary environmental changes in the drylands of China — a critical review. Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 32193233.
Zhang, W.G., Dong, C.Y., Ye, L.P., Ma, H.L., and Yu, L.Z. (2012a). )Magnetic properties of coastal loess on the Midao islands, northern China: implications for provenance and weathering intensity. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 333–334, 160167.
Zhang, H.Y., Lu, H.Y., Jiang, S.Y., Vandenberghe, J., Wang, S.J., and Cosgrove, R. (2012b). )Provenance of loess deposits in the Eastern Qinling Mountains (central China) and their implications for the paleoenvironment. Quaternary Science Reviews 43, 94102.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed