No Yangtze River Prior to the Late Miocene: Evidence From Detrital Muscovite and K-Feldspar 40Ar/39Ar Geochronology

Xilin Sun, Yuntao Tian*, K. F. Kuiper, Chang’an Li, Zengjie Zhang, J. R. Wijbrans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Yangtze River is the largest river in Asia and its age and evolution has been the subject of debate for more than one century. Here, we applied a combination of detrital muscovite and K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar dating on a set of samples from late Cenozoic Nanjing fluvial gravel sediments (overlain by basalt with ages of ∼22.9 and ∼10.3 Ma) distributed along the lower Yangtze River to trace the late Cenozoic Yangtze drainage. It is found that the characteristic Cenozoic muscovite and K-feldspar age signals of the upper Yangtze are absent in the gravel sediments, indicating that the upper Yangtze did not supply sediment to the lower Yangtze before at least late Miocene time. These results do not support a prelate Miocene birth of the Yangtze River, but favor an alternative model highlighting later integration of the upper Yangtze into the mid-lower reaches to form the current Yangtze drainage system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL089903
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
Early online date6 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41801003, 41888101, 41772211, 41671011, and 41672355), the Guangdong Province Introduced Innovative R&D Team (2016ZT06N331) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (19lgjc03 and 19lgpy72). K.F. Kuiper is supported by NWO‐ALW grant 864.12.005. X. Sun receives a PhD grant (201206410036) from the China Scholarship Council. This work was supported by the argon geochronology laboratory of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Editorial work by Harihar Rajaram and construction reviews by Darryl Granger and two anonymous reviewers are grateful acknowledged.

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© 2021. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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