The rise and demise of the Paleogene Central Tibetan Valley

Xiong, Zhongyu; Liu, Xiaohui; Ding, Lin; Farnsworth, Alex; Spicer, Robert A; Xu, Qiang; Valdes, Paul; He, Songlin; Zeng, Deng; Wang, Chao; Li, Zhenyu; Guo, Xudong; Su, Tao; Zhao, Chenyuan; Wang, Houqi and Yue, Yahui (2022). The rise and demise of the Paleogene Central Tibetan Valley. Science Advances, 8(6), article no. eabj0944.




Reconstructing the Paleogene topography and climate of central Tibet informs understanding of collisional tectonic mechanisms and their links to climate and biodiversity. Radiometric dates of volcanic/sedimentary rocks and paleotemperatures based on clumped isotopes within ancient soil carbonate nodules from the Lunpola Basin, part of an east-west trending band of basins in central Tibet and now at 4.7 km, suggest that the basin rose from <2.0 km at 50 to 38 million years (Ma) to >4.0 km by 29 Ma. The height change is quantified using the rates at which wet-bulb temperatures ( ) decline at land surfaces as those surface rise. In this case, fell from ~8°C at ~38 Ma to ~1°C at 29 Ma, suggesting at least ~2.0 km of surface uplift in ~10 Ma under warm Eocene to Oligocene conditions. These results confirm that a Paleogene Central Tibetan Valley transformed to a plateau before the Neogene.

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