Pulsed rise and growth of the Tibetan Plateau to its northern margin since ca. 30 Ma

Weitao Wang, Peizhen Zhang, Carmala N. Garzione, Caicai Liu, Zhuqi Zhang, Jianzhang Pang, Yizhou Wang, Dewen Zheng, Wenjun Zheng, Huiping Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The onset of mountain building along margins of the Tibetan Plateau provides a key constraint on the processes by which the high topography in Eurasia formed. Although progressive expansion of thickened crust underpins most models, several studies suggest that the northern extent of the plateau was established early, soon after the collision between India and Eurasia at ca. 50 Ma. This inference relies heavily on the age and provenance of Cenozoic sediments preserved in the Qaidam basin. Here, we present evidence in the northern plateau for a considerably younger inception and evolution of the Qaidam basin, based on magnetostratigraphies combined with detrital apatite fission-track ages that date the basin fills to be from ca. 30 to 4.8 Ma. Detrital zircon-provenance analyses coupled with paleocurrents reveal that two-stage growth of the Qilian Shan in the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau began at ca. 30 and at 10 Ma, respectively. Evidence for ca. 30 and 10 to 15 Ma widespread synchronous deformation throughout the Tibetan Plateau and its margins suggests that these two stages of outward growth may have resulted from the removal of mantle lithosphere beneath different portions of the Tibetan Plateau.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2120364119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 22 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Magnetostratigraphy
  • Northeastern Tibetan Plateau
  • Qaidam basin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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