Climatic variation in the Linxia basin, NE Tibetan Plateau, from 13.1 to 4.3 Ma: The stable isotope record

Majie Fan, David L. Dettman, Chunhui Song, Xiaomin Fang, Carmala N. Garzione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The δ13C and δ18O values of carbonates and δ13Corg values, % C, and C/N ratios of organic matter from lacustrine and fluvial sediments were measured from two stratigraphic sections in the Linxia basin on the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Diagenesis, when present, is early, limited to small spatial scales and restricted stratigraphic intervals. A strong correlation exists between dolomite content and the δ18O values of micritic carbonate suggesting that carbonates are primary precipitates from lake water and that δ18O values reflect changes in the lake environment, with more positive values derived from evaporated and more saline lake water. The first part of this record is characterized by strong oscillations between dry and wet conditions accompanied by changes in the lake system between hydrographically closed and open states (13.1-8.0 Ma). The most severe aridity occurred from 9.6 to 8.5 Ma. After ∼ 8.0 Ma, a more stable and less arid climate dominated the region and the drainage system was open (8.0-5.3 Ma). After 5.3 Ma, climate became gradually drier and/or cooler (5.3-4.3 Ma). The organic matter preserved in the Linxia basin is most likely a mixture of terrestrial C3 plant matter and lake algae. A correlation between C/N and δ13Corg indicates that a significant percentage of the organic matter is derived from terrestrial sources. The organic matter has undergone selective degradation during which the C/N ratios and organic carbon percentage decreased. The δ13Corg values are relatively stable throughout the 13.1 to 4.3 Ma interval ranging from - 24 to - 29‰ VPDB, suggesting that C4 grasses were either absent or insignificant in the Linxia region prior to 4.3 Ma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-328
Number of pages16
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 30 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagenesis
  • Linxia basin
  • Organic matter
  • Oxygen isotope
  • Tibetan Plateau

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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