SCIENCE CHINA Earth Sciences, Volume 61 , Issue 9 : 1292-1305(2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-018-9231-9

Sedimentary and geochemical evidence of Eocene climate change in the Xining Basin, northeastern Tibetan Plateau

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  • ReceivedMar 11, 2018
  • AcceptedJun 4, 2018
  • PublishedJul 19, 2018


Funded by

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(Grant)

the Chinese Academy of Sciences(Grant)


We are grateful to anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. The first author is grateful to CAS-TWAS for providing me with a Fellowship during my period of study in Beijing. Special thanks are due to Dr. Junyi Ge, Yawei Wang, Wenqi Jiang, Xiaoyan Zhang, Zhipeng Wu and Xin Wang for their assistance in the field. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41430531 & 41690114), the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB26020201) and the International Partnership Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. 131C11KYSB20160061).


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  • Figure 1

    Geologic map of the Xining Basin (slightly modified after Xiao et al., 2012) showing the location of the Xijigou section (XG) and Tashan section (TS).

  • Figure 2

    (a) Generalized Cenozoic stratigraphy of the Xining Basin (modified and continued after Xiao et al., 2012). (b) Detailed vertical lithostratigraphy and lithology of the Eocene sediments from the Xijigou section and Tashan section (lower 26 m) of the Xining Basin (formation ages are adopted from Dai et al., 2006 and Xiao et al., 2012). (c) Outcrop view of Unit 1 (~52–40 Ma) displaying the dominance of dark reddish-brown mudstone lithofacies; the thickest gypsum bed (~10 m) at the top represents a significant depositional and climatic shift. (d) Outcrop view of Unit 2 (~40–34 Ma) showing the dominance of alternating gypsum and mudstone lithofacies.

  • Figure 3

    Vertical distribution of sediment color parameters of the Eocene sediments of the Xining Basin: (a) redness (a*); (b) blueness (b*); (c) yellowness (L*). Shaded area indicates an abrupt excursion of the proxies.

  • Figure 4

    Bi-plots of major elements of the Eocene sediments for the Xining Basin. Blue and red dots represent samples from Unit 1 (52–40 Ma) and Unit 2 (40–34 Ma) respectively. UCC (Upper Continental Crust) data are adopted after Taylor and McLennan (1985).

  • Figure 5

    Vertical variations of Na/Al, Na/Ti, K/Na (molecular ratio) and Chemical Index of Weathering (CIW′) for the Eocene sediments of the Xining Basin.

  • Figure 6

    Plot of K vs. Rb (after Wronkiewicz and Condie, 1990) for the Eocene Xining Basin sediments. Blue dots and red dots represent the elemental (K/Rb) variation between Unit 1 (52–40 Ma) and Unit 2 (40–34 Ma), respectively. K/Rb=230 line indicates the average crustal ratio.

  • Figure 7

    Comparison of the vertical variations of sediment color parameter a*/L* (redness/lightness, (a)) and Chemical Index of Weathering (CIW′, (b)) for the Eocene sedimentary sequence recorded in the Xining Basin. (c) Vertical variation of CIW′ from the Qaidam Basin (Song et al., 2013), northeastern Tibetan Plateau, on the same time scale. (d)–(h) Pollen diagram showing the abundance of major floral components (Long et al., 2011) recorded in the Xiejia section of the Xining Basin. (i) Variation of marine δ18O records on the same timescale (Zachos et al., 2001). Shaded area indicates Eocene warming events, and MECO and LEW are the Middle Eocene Climate Optimum and Late Eocene Warming, respectively.


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