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Assessing the provenance of loess and desert sediments in northern China using U-Pb dating and morphology of detrital zircons

Thomas Stevens, Carl Palk, Andrew Carter, Lu Huayu and Peter D. Clift
Assessing the provenance of loess and desert sediments in northern China using U-Pb dating and morphology of detrital zircons
Geological Society of America Bulletin (July 2010) 122 (7-8): 1331-1344

Abstract

Chinese loess is regarded as one of the most detailed and long-term archives of climate on land. However, there is still significant controversy over the deposit's origin, limiting interpretation of the sedimentological and paleoclimatic mechanisms responsible for its emplacement. Here this is addressed through morphology and the first laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS) U-Pb ages of detrital zircons from loess (last glacial age; northern Loess Plateau). These are compared to zircon U-Pb age spectra from desert and sandy lands surrounding the Loess Plateau. Surface samples were taken from the Tengger and Mu Us deserts, as well as the Horqin and Otindag sandy lands. The results demonstrate that zircon U-Pb ages can discriminate between potential source areas and highlight both similarities and differences in age spectra for the desert and sandy land samples. Most significantly, the loess age spectrum shows no single affinity to any of these regions and exhibits zircon ages associated with granitoid rocks representing tectonic events in both west and east northern China. Furthermore, and in contrast to proximal deserts, a significant proportion of zircons from the loess show affinities with rocks cropping out in the Qilian Mountains. The euhedral form of many of these grains further suggests direct transport from these crystalline source rocks, in contrast to previously hypothesized production or storage in deserts. Thus, dust-transporting storms tracked from the west during the last glacial maximum, although this does not explain all the zircon variability and implies multiple sources and storm-track variation over the depositional period.


ISSN: 0016-7606
EISSN: 1943-2674
Coden: BUGMAF
Serial Title: Geological Society of America Bulletin
Serial Volume: 122
Serial Issue: 7-8
Title: Assessing the provenance of loess and desert sediments in northern China using U-Pb dating and morphology of detrital zircons
Affiliation: Royal Holloway University of London, Centre for Quaternary Research, Egham, United Kingdom
Pages: 1331-1344
Published: 201007
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 73
Accession Number: 2010-050203
Categories: Quaternary geologyGeochronology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: With GSA Data Repository Item 2010049
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, geol. sketch map
N43°00'00" - N44°00'00", E115°30'00" - E116°30'00"
N43°00'00" - N44°00'00", E121°00'00" - E121°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of London Birkbeck College, GBR, United KingdomNanjing University, CHN, ChinaUniversity of Aberdeen, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201027
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