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The Chinese Loess Plateau, the world’s largest and oldest loess record, preserves evidence of Asia’s long-term dust source dynamics, but there is uncertainty over the source of the deposits. Recent single-grain detrital zircon U-Pb age analysis has progressed this issue, but debates remain about source changes, and the generation and interpretation of zircon data. To address this, we analyze different groupings of new and existing datasets from the Loess Plateau and potential sources. We also present the results of a first high resolution sampling, multi-proxy provenance analysis of Beiguoyuan loess using U-Pb dating of detrital zircons and detrital garnet geochemistry. The data shows that some small source differences seem to exist between different areas on the Loess Plateau. However, sediment source appears to be unchanging between loess and palaeosols, supporting a recent material recycling hypothesis. Our zircon and garnet data demonstrates, however, that Beiguoyuan experienced a temporary, abrupt source shift during the last glacial maximum, implying that local dust sources became periodically active during the Quaternary. Our results highlight that grouping data to achieve bigger datasets could cause identification of misleading trends. Additionally, we suggest that multi-proxy single-grain approaches are required to gain further insight into Chinese Loess Plateau dust sources.
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