New early oligocene zircon U-Pb dates for the ‘Miocene’ Wenshan Basin, Yunnan, China: Biodiversity and paleoenvironment

Tian, Yimin; Spicer, Robert A.; Huang, Jian; Zhou, Zhekun; Su, Tao; Widdowson, Mike; Jia, Linbo; Li, Shihu; Wu, Wenjian; Xue, Li; Luo, Penghui and Zhang, Shitao (2021). New early oligocene zircon U-Pb dates for the ‘Miocene’ Wenshan Basin, Yunnan, China: Biodiversity and paleoenvironment. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 565, article no. 116929.



The sedimentary basins of Yunnan, Southwest China, record detailed histories of Cenozoic paleoenvironmental change. They track regional tectonic and palaeobiological evolution, both of which are critically important for the development of modern floral diversity in southwestern China and throughout Asia more generally. However, to be useful, the sedimentary archives within the basins have to be placed within a well-constrained timeframe independent of biostratigraphy. Using high resolution U-Pb dating, we redefine the age of fossil-bearing strata in the Wenshan Basin. Regarded as Miocene for the last half century, these basin sediments encompass 30± 2 and 32 ± 1 Ma early Oligocene tuffaceous horizons, thus indicating a significantly greater antiquity than previously recognized. Together with other regional age revisions our result points to widespread Yunnan basin and orographic development as largely having taken place by the end Paleogene. This age revision provides an important new perspective on the preserved biotas and their evolution in Yunnan, and especially our understanding of the origin of Asian biodiversity which, regionally, had a near-modern composition by the early Oligocene. Crucially, this revised age evidences late Eocene-early Oligocene regional tectonism, pointing to the rise of eastern Tibet and the Hengduan Mountains before the growth of the Himalaya, and that Asia's high plant diversity has a Paleogene origin.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 76112
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 0012-821X
  • Project Funding Details
  • Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
    Not Set41661134049National Natural Science Foundation of China
    Not SetNE/P013805/1Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom
    Not Set2019QZKK0705Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research
    Joint research program of YunnanU1502231National Natural Science Foundation of China
    International Fellowship for Visiting ScientistsNot SetXTBG
    Not Set31800183National Natural Science Foundation of China
    135 Program2017XTBG-T03Chinese Academy of Sciences
    ‘Light of West China’ ProgramNot SetChinese Academy of Sciences
  • Keywords
  • biodiversity hot spot; paleoenvironment; sedimentary basin; SW China; U-Pb dating
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
    Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2021 Elsevier B.V.
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  • ORO Import