Qaidam leaf fossils reveals paleoelevation and paleoclimate of northeastern Tibet in early Oligocene
The Qaidam Basin in northern Tibet is a key region for understanding the history and the underlying mechanisms of Central Asia aridification because it hosts an extremely thick (∼12 km) continuous Cenozoic sedimentary succession ranging from the Paleocene to the Quaternary. Abundant sedimentological evidence indicates that a step-wise drying in Central Asia began in the late Eocene and that aridity persists today. Drying has been linked to Cenozoic global cooling, uplift of Tibet associated with India-Asia plate collision, or the retreat of the proto-Paratethy. To understand fully the links between tectonics and climate change requires quantification of past climate as well as a detailed knowledge of the Paleogene topography in the region.
The research was recently published in “Earth and Planetary Science Letters”. This work is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Strategic Priority Research Program (B) of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Youth Innovation Promotion Association, CAS, the Foundation of the Geological Survey of China etc..
Reference：Song Bowen*, Spicer R.A., Zhang Kexin*, Ji J., Farnsworth A., Hughes A.C., Yang Y., Han F., Xu Y., Spicer T., Shen T., Lunt D.J., Shi Gongle*, 2020. Qaidam Basin leaf fossils show northeastern Tibet was high, wet and cool in the early Oligocene. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 537, 116175.
Fig.1. Early Oligocene Qaidam plant fossils
Fig. 2. Rupelian general circulation climate model (GCM) paleogeography and moist enthalpy at sea level.