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U-Pb zircon dating evidence for a Pleistocene Sarasvati River and capture of the Yamuna River

Peter D. Clift, Andrew Carter, Liviu Giosan, Julie Durcan, Geoff A. T. Duller, Mark G. Macklin, Anwar Alizai, Ali R. Tabrez, Mohammed Danish, Sam VanLaningham and Dorian Q. Fuller
U-Pb zircon dating evidence for a Pleistocene Sarasvati River and capture of the Yamuna River
Geology (Boulder) (March 2012) 40 (3): 211-214


The Harappan Culture, one of the oldest known urban civilizations, thrived on the northwest edge of the Thar Desert (India and Pakistan) between 3200 and 1900 BCE. Its demise has been linked to rapid weakening of the summer monsoon at this time, yet reorganization of rivers may also have played a role. We sampled subsurface channel sand bodies predating ca. 4.0 ka and used U-Pb dating of zircon sand grains to constrain their provenance through comparison with the established character of modern river sands. Samples from close to archaeological sites to the north of the desert show little affinity with the Ghaggar-Hakra, the presumed source of the channels. Instead, we see at least two groups of sediments, showing similarities both to the Beas River in the west and to the Yamuna and Sutlej Rivers in the east. The channels were active until after 4.5 ka and were covered by dunes before 1.4 ka, although loss of the Yamuna from the Indus likely occurred as early as 49 ka and no later than 10 ka. Capture of the Yamuna to the east and the Sutlej to the north rerouted water away from the area of the Harappan centers, but this change significantly predated their final collapse.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 40
Serial Issue: 3
Title: U-Pb zircon dating evidence for a Pleistocene Sarasvati River and capture of the Yamuna River
Affiliation: University of Aberdeen, School of Geosciences, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Pages: 211-214
Published: 201203
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 24
Accession Number: 2012-041669
Categories: Quaternary geologyGeochronology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: With GSA Data Repository Item 2012056
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sect., sketch map
N25°00'00" - N35°00'00", E68°00'00" - E77°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Birkbeck College London, GBR, United KingdomWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA, United StatesAberystwyth University, GBR, United KingdomGeological Survey of Pakistan, PAK, PakistanNational Institute for Oceanography, PAK, PakistanUniversity of Alaska, Fairbanks, USA, United StatesUniversity College London, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, 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: 201222
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