Paleoelevations in the Jianchuan Basin of the southeastern Tibetan Plateau based on stable isotope and pollen grain analyses

Jing Wu, Kexin Zhang, Yadong Xu, Guocan Wang, Carmala N. Garzione, John Eiler, Philippe Hervé Leloup, Philippe Sorrel, Gweltaz Mahéo

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25 Scopus citations


The southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) is a key region for understanding the region's surface uplift mechanisms. This study focused on the Jiuziyan and Shuanghe Formations (Fms) in the Jianchuan Basin, both of which include lacustrine calcareous mudstones and marls. Ostracods of the genus Austrocypris found within the Jiuziyan and Shuanghe Fms constrain the age of strata to the Late Eocene. This study used two different proxies, i.e. fossil pollen coexistence and the δ18O (VPDB) values of carbonate (δ18Oc), to reconstruct paleoelevation and the extant paleoenvironment from lacustrine calcareous mudstones and marls preserved in the Eocene stratigraphy of the Jianchuan Basin. The coexistence approach (CA) using pollen data from the Shuanghe Fm indicates a paleoelevation of 1.3–2.6 km above sea level (asl), which would most probably have been associated with a vegetation cover consisting of tropical-subtropical, deciduous, coniferous, broadleaf forests. The reconstructed mean annual air temperature (MAAT) had a value of 16.8–21.7 °C, warmer than today's MAAT (~6 °C). Oxygen isotope results from the Jiuziyan Fm, with/without modification between Eocene and modern Myanmar sea level, suggested that the surface of the Jianchuan Basin was at a paleoelevation between 0.5+0.8 –0.5 km asl and 2.5 ± 0.7 km asl (δ18Omw: −8.9 ± 1.3‰ 2σ). During the Shuanghe Fm sedimentation the paleoelevation was between 0.9 +0.7 –0.7 km asl and 2.9 ± 0.6 km asl (δ18Omw: −9.5 ± 1.1‰ 2σ). Our results suggest that a stepwise uplift of Jianchuan Basin and crustal thickening initiated during the Eocene was the cause of passive surface uplift of the southeastern Tibetan Plateau (TP) rather than Miocene lower crustal flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-108
Number of pages16
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Clumped isotopes
  • Paleoaltimetry
  • Palynomorphs
  • Yunnan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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