Aeolian dust supply from the Yellow River floodplain to the Pleistocene loess deposits of the Mangshan Plateau, central China: Evidence from zircon U-Pb age spectra

Y. Shang, M.A. Prins, C.J. Beets, A. Kaakinen, Y. Lahaye, Noortje Dijkstra, D.S. Rits, Bin Wang, Hongbo Zheng, R.T. van Balen

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Abstract

The thick loess-palaeosol sequences in the Mangshan Loess Plateau (MLP; central China) along the south bank of the lower reach of the Yellow River provide high-resolution records of Quaternary climate change. In addition, substantial increases in grain-size and accumulation rate have been inferred in the upper part of the loess sequence, above palaeosol layer S2. This study investigates the sources of the long-term dust supply to the MLP and explores the mechanism behind the sudden increase in sediment delivery and coarsening of the loess deposits since S2 (∼240 ka) by using end member modelling of the loess grain-size dataset and single-grain zircon U-Pb dating. Our results indicate that the lower Yellow River floodplain, directly north of the MLP, served as a major dust supply for the plateau at least since the deposition of loess unit L9 and indirectly suggest that the integration of the Yellow River and the disappearance of the Sanmen palaeolake took place before L9 (∼900 ka). The sudden change in sedimentology of the Mangshan sequence above palaeosol unit S2 may result from an increased fluvial sediment flux being transported to the lower reaches of the Yellow River because of tectonic movements (initiated) in the Weihe Basin around 240 ka. Furthermore, sediment coarsening can be explained by the gradual southward migration of the lower Yellow River floodplain towards the MLP since the deposition of palaeosol S2. The migration is evidenced by the formation of an impressive scarp, and is likely caused by tectonic tilting of the floodplain area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131
Number of pages143
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume182
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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