Abstract

The Ordos Basin of China encompasses the Mu Us Desert in the northwest and the Chinese Loess Plateau to the south and east. The boundary between the mostly internally drained Mu Us Desert and fluvially incised Loess Plateau is an erosional escarpment, up to 400 m in relief, composed of Quaternary loess. Linear ridges, with lengths of ∼102–103 m, are formed in Cretaceous–Quaternary strata throughout the basin. Ridge orientations are generally parallel to near-surface wind vectors in the Ordos Basin during modern winter and spring dust storms. Our observations suggest that the Loess Plateau previously extended farther to the north and west of its modern windward escarpment margin and has been partially reworked by eolian processes. The linear topography, Mu Us Desert internal drainage, and escarpment retreat are all attributed to wind erosion, the aerial extent of which expanded southeastward in China in response to Quaternary amplification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation.

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