Late Miocene–Pliocene climate evolution recorded by the red clay cover on the Xiaoshuizi planation surface, NE Tibetan Plateau

Li, Xiaomiao; Peng, Tingjiang; Ma, Zhenhua; Li, Meng; Feng, Zhantao; Guo, Benhong; Yu, Hao; Ye, Xiyan; Hui, Zhengchuang; Song, Chunhui; Li, Jijun

The Pliocene climate and its driving mechanisms have attracted substantial scientific interest because of their potential as an analog for near-future climates. The late Miocene–Pliocene red clay sequence of the main Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP) has been widely used to reconstruct the history of interior Asian aridification and the Asian monsoon. However, red clay sequences deposited on the planation surface of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) are rare. A continuous red clay sequence was recently discovered on the uplifted Xiaoshuizi (XSZ) planation surface in the Maxian Mountains, northeastern (NE) TP. In this study, we analyzed multiple climatic proxies from the XSZ red clay sequence with the aim of reconstructing the late Miocene–early Pliocene climate history of the NE TP and to assess regional climatic differences between the central and western CLP. Our results demonstrate the occurrence of minimal weathering and pedogenesis during the late Miocene, which indicates that the climate was arid. We speculate that precipitation delivered by the paleo East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) was limited during this period and that the intensification of the circulation of the westerlies resulted in arid conditions in the study region. Subsequently, enhanced weathering and pedogenesis occurred intermittently during 4.7–3.9 Ma, which attests to an increase in effective moisture. We ascribe the arid–humid climatic transition near ∼4.7 Ma to the expansion of the paleo-EASM. The warming of the high northern latitudes in response to the closure of the Panama Seaway may have been responsible for the thermodynamical enhancement of the paleo-EASM system, which permitted more moisture to be transported to the NE TP.

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Li, Xiaomiao / Peng, Tingjiang / Ma, Zhenhua / et al: Late Miocene–Pliocene climate evolution recorded by the red clay cover on the Xiaoshuizi planation surface, NE Tibetan Plateau. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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