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A Late Eocene palynological record of climate change and Tibetan Plateau uplift (Xining Basin, China)

Abstract : Climate models suggest that Asian paleoenvironments, monsoons and continental aridification were primarily governed by tectonic uplift and sea retreat since the Eocene with potential contribution of global climate changes. However, the cause and timing of these paleoenvironmental changes remain poorly constrained. The recently well-dated continental mudflat to ephemeral saline lake sedimentary succession, situated in the Xining Basin at the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau (NW China), provides a unique opportunity to develop additional proxy successions in this area that are placed accurately in time. Here, a palynological record from this succession is reported. High abundances of desert and steppe-desert taxa such as Ephedripites and Nitrariadites/Nitraripollis are found, which can be differentiated by the presence of broad leaved deciduous forest taxa in the lower part of the section (particularly up to 36.4 Ma; magnetochron C16r), and a sudden increase of Pinaceae (Pinuspollenites, Piceaepollenites and Abiespollenites) which is dated at 36.1 Ma (C16n.2n). Coexistence Approach (CoA) indicates that from 39.9 to 36.4 Ma (C17n.1n) regional climate was warm and wet, while from 36.4 to 33.5 Ma (C16n.2n-C13r) climate tends to be cooler and drier. The data indicate that paleoenvironmental and palynological changes on the NE part of the Tibetan Plateau resulted from a combination of long-term tectonic uplift forcing and long- and short-term climate changes. The increase of taxa such as Piceaepollenites and Abiespollenites indicates not only a cooling and drying trend prior to the Eocene/Oligocene (E/O) boundary, but also the existence of high altitude mountain habitats in the periphery of the Xining Basin. The sudden Pinaceae event correlates closely in time with a marked aridification step as viewed from the lithology of the Xining Basin that was linked to the sea retreat out of the Tarim Basin.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 1:41:10 PM
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Carina Hoorn, Julia Straathof, Hemmo Abels, Yadong Xu, Torsten Utescher, et al.. A Late Eocene palynological record of climate change and Tibetan Plateau uplift (Xining Basin, China). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Elsevier, 2012, 344-345, pp.16-38. ⟨10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.05.011⟩. ⟨insu-00771302⟩

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