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Palaeoglaciology of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study concerns the palaeoglaciation of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, with emphasis on the Bayan Har Shan (Shan = Mountain) in the headwaters of Huang He (Yellow River). To reconstruct past glacier development multiple techniques, including remote sensing, field investigations, cosmogenic exposure dating, and numerical modelling have been employed. Analysis of the large-scale geomorphology indicates that glacial erosion has been dominant in the elevated mountain areas on the low-relief plateau, whereas fluvial erosion outpaces glacial erosion along the plateau margin. Landform and sediment records yield evidence for multiple local glaciations, restricted to the highest mountain areas, and a maximum glaciation beyond the mountain front. Absence of data supporting the former presence of proposed ice sheets, plateau-wide or regional, tentatively indicates that no ice sheet glaciation occurred on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. Cosmogenic exposure dating of boulders, surface pebbles, and sediment sections in central Bayan Har Shan indicates that its record of past glaciations predates the global Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Based on a world-wide analysis, yielding that wide age disparity within apparent exposure age datasets is most likely caused by post-glacial shielding processes, the Bayan Har Shan exposure ages constrain four periods of glaciation with minimum ages of 40-65 ka, 60-100 ka, 95-165 ka, and undetermined oldest stage. Similar to Bayan Har Shan, the plateau-wide distribution of boulders with pre-LGM exposure ages close to present-day glaciers shows that its LGM glaciers were generally not much larger than today. The results of a high resolution glacier model applied to nine regions across the plateau indicates that temperature depressions of 2-4 K are enough to expand glaciers beyond their global LGM extent, implying that during periods of Northern Hemisphere glaciation the Tibetan Plateau was not much colder than today or became exceedingly dry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University , 2010. , 15 p.
Series
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 21
Keyword [en]
Tibetan Plateau, palaeoglaciology
National Category
Physical Geography Geology
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38689ISBN: 978-91-7447-074-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-38689DiVA: diva2:312664
Public defence
2010-06-02, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of doctoral defence the following publications were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.Available from: 2010-05-11 Created: 2010-04-26 Last updated: 2010-05-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Glacial geomorphology of the Bayan Har sector of the NE Tibetan Plateau
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Glacial geomorphology of the Bayan Har sector of the NE Tibetan Plateau
2008 (English)In: Journal of Maps, ISSN 1744-5647, Vol. 2008, 42-62 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We here present a detailed glacial geomorphological map covering 136,500 km2 of the Bayan Har sector of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau - an area previously suggested to have nourished the most extensive Quaternary glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau. The map, presented at a scale of 1:650,000, is based on remote sensing of a 90 m SRTM digital elevation model and 15/30 m Landsat ETM+ satellite imagery. Seven landform types have been mapped; glacial valleys, glacial troughs, glacial lineations,marginal moraines, marginal moraine remnants, meltwater channels and hummocky terrain. A large number of glacial landforms exist, concentrated around mountain blocks protruding above the surrounding plateau area, testifying to former glacial activity. In contrast, large plateau areas of lower altitude lack glacial landforms. The mapped glacial geomorphology indicates multiple former glacial advances primarily by valley and piedmont glaciers, but lends no support to the hypothesis of ice sheet scale glaciation in the area. The presented glacial geomorphological map demonstrates the usefulness of remote sensing techniques for mapping the glacial geomorphology of the Tibetan Plateau, and it will be used for reconstructing the paleoglaciology of the Bayan Har sector of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau.

National Category
Physical Geography Geology
Research subject
Physical Geography; Quarternary Geology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24882 (URN)10.4113/jom.2008.96 (DOI)000267267200005 ()
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7507Available from: 2008-04-17 Created: 2008-04-17 Last updated: 2010-10-21Bibliographically approved
2. Landscape analysis of the Huang He headwaters, NE Tibetan Plateau — Patterns of glacial and fluvial erosion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Landscape analysis of the Huang He headwaters, NE Tibetan Plateau — Patterns of glacial and fluvial erosion
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2009 (English)In: Geomorphology, ISSN 0169-555X, Vol. 103, no 2, 212-226 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The large-scale geomorphology of the Huang He (Yellow River) headwaters, centered around the Bayan Har Shan (5267 m asl) in the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau, is dominated by an uplifted remnant of a low-relief relict plateau with several mountain ranges. We have performed geomorphological mapping using SRTM topographic data and Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite imagery to evaluate landscape characteristics and patterns, and to investigate the relative importance of different erosional processes in the dissection of this plateau remnant. The distribution of valley morphologies indicates that the eastern and southern margins of the plateau remnant have been extensively dissected by the Huang He and Chang Jiang (Yangtze) rivers and associated tributaries, while the mountain ranges have valley morphologies with U-shaped cross-sections that indicate large impacts from glacial erosion during Quaternary glaciations.

An east-west decrease in the abundance of glacial valleys in mountains above 4800 m asl suggests that the diminishing size of the mountain blocks, coupled with increased continentality, resulted in more restricted glaciations to the west. Glacial valleys in mountain blocks on the plateau remnant are wider and deeper than adjacent fluvial valleys. This indicates that, integrated over time, the glacial system has been more effective in eroding the mountains of the relict upland surface than the fluvial system. This erosion relationship is reversed, however, on the plateau margin where dramatic fluvial rejuvenation in valleys that are part of the Huang He and Chang Jiang watersheds has consumed whatever glacial morphology existed. A remarkable correspondence exists between the outline of the relict plateau remnant and the outline that has been proposed for the Huang He Ice Sheet. This coincidence could mean that the Huang He Ice Sheet was larger than originally proposed, but that evidence for this has been consumed by fluvial incision at the plateau margin. Alternatively, this coincidence could indicate that what has been described as an ice sheet border is merely the outline of a relict plateau landscape.

In apparent support of the latter, the absence of large-scale glacial geomorphological evidence on the plains of the relict plateau surface is not consistent with the hypothesis of a Huang He Ice Sheet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2009
Keyword
Tibet, Glacial history, River incision, Huang He Ice Sheet, Relict Surface
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-15725 (URN)10.1016/j.geomorph.2008.04.024 (DOI)000261726600007 ()
Note
11 authorsAvailable from: 2008-12-09 Created: 2008-12-09 Last updated: 2010-10-14Bibliographically approved
3. Palaeoglaciation of Bayan Har Shan, northeastern Tibetan Plateau: glacial geology indicates maximum extents limited to ice cap and ice field scales
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Palaeoglaciation of Bayan Har Shan, northeastern Tibetan Plateau: glacial geology indicates maximum extents limited to ice cap and ice field scales
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2009 (English)In: Journal of Quaternary Science, ISSN 0267-8179, E-ISSN 1099-1417, Vol. 24, no 7, 710-727 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Key locations within an extensive area of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, centred on Bayan Har Shan, have been mapped to distinguish glacial from non-glacial deposits. Prior work suggests palaeo-glaciers ranging from valley glaciers and local ice caps in the highest mountains to a regional or even plateau-scale ice sheet. New field data show that glacial deposits are abundant in high mountain areas in association with large-scale glacial landforms. In addition, glacial deposits are present in several locations outside areas with distinct glacial erosional landforms, indicating that the most extensive palaeo-glaciers had little geomorphological impact on the landscape towards their margins. The glacial geological record does indicate extensive maximum glaciation, with local ice caps covering entire elevated mountain areas. However, absence of glacial traces in intervening lower-lying plateau areas suggests that local ice caps did not merge to form a regional ice sheet on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau around Bayan Har Shan. No evidence exists for past ice sheet glaciation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2009
Keyword
glacial deposits, Tibetan Plateau, Bayan Har, glacial extent, palaeoglaciology
National Category
Physical Geography Geology
Research subject
Physical Geography; Quarternary Geology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-31169 (URN)10.1002/jqs.1305 (DOI)000271395000006 ()
Note
11 authorsAvailable from: 2009-11-06 Created: 2009-11-06 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
4. Boulder cosmogenic exposure ages as constraints for glacial chronologies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Boulder cosmogenic exposure ages as constraints for glacial chronologies
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Cosmogenic exposure dating has greatly enhanced our ability to define glacial chronologies spanning several global cold periods, and glacial boulder exposure ages are now routinely used to constrain deglaciation ages. However, exposure dating involves assumptions about the geological history of the sample that are difficult to test and yet may have a profound effect on the inferred age. Two principal geological factors yield erroneous inferred ages: exposure prior to glaciation (yielding exposure ages that are too old) and post-glacial shielding (yielding exposure ages that are too young). Here we show that post-glacial shielding is more important than prior exposure, using datasets of glacial boulder 10Be exposure ages from the Tibetan Plateau (1123 boulders), Northern Hemisphere palaeo-ice sheets (615 boulders), and present-day glaciers (186 boulders). No boulders from present-day glaciers and very few boulders from the palaeo-ice sheets have exposure ages significantly older than independently known deglaciation ages, indicating that prior exposure is of limited significance. Further, the exposure age distribution of boulders from the Tibetan Plateau agrees with the distribution produced by a simple post-glacial landform degradation model, indicating that post-glacial shielding is important. The large global dataset demonstrates that, in the absence of other evidence, glacial boulder exposure ages should be viewed as minimum limiting deglaciation ages.

Keyword
cosmogenic nuclides, exposure age interpretation, cosmogenic inheritance, post-glacial shielding, glacial chronology, deglaciation
National Category
Physical Geography Geology
Research subject
Physical Geography; Quarternary Geology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38686 (URN)
Available from: 2010-04-26 Created: 2010-04-26 Last updated: 2010-10-07Bibliographically approved
5. Palaeoglaciology of Bayan Har Shan, NE Tibetan Plateau: the case of a missing LGM expansion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Palaeoglaciology of Bayan Har Shan, NE Tibetan Plateau: the case of a missing LGM expansion
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Bayan Har Shan, a prominent upland area in the northeastern sector of the Tibetan Plateau, hosts an extensive glacial geological record. To reconstruct its palaeoglaciology we have determined 10Be apparent exposure ages based on 67 samples from boulders, surface pebbles, and sediment sections in conjunction with studies of the glacial geology (remote sensing and field studies) and numerical glacier modelling. Apparent exposure ages from moraines and glacial sediments in Bayan Har Shan range from 3 ka to 129 ka, with a large disparity in ages for individual sites and within the recognised four morphostratigraphical groups. The age disparity is inexplicable as arising from differences in inheritance without the application of unrealistic assumptions but it can be explained as arising from differences in post-glacial shielding, yielding exposure ages younger than the deglaciation age. We present a palaeoglaciological time-slice reconstruction in which the most restricted glaciation, with glaciers less than 10 km long, occurred before 40-65 ka. More extensive glaciations occurred before 60-100 ka and 95-165 ka. Maximum glaciation is poorly constrained but probably even older. The Bayan Har Shan exposure age dataset indicates that glaciers on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau have remained surprisingly restricted for at least 40 ka, including the global last glacial maximum (LGM). This case of a missing LGM is supported by high-resolution glacier modelling experiments.

National Category
Physical Geography Geology
Research subject
Physical Geography; Quarternary Geology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38688 (URN)
Note
9 authorsAvailable from: 2010-04-26 Created: 2010-04-26 Last updated: 2010-10-07Bibliographically approved

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Output format
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