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Wind as the primary driver of erosion in the Qaidam Basin, China

  • Deserts are a major source of loess and may undergo substantial wind-erosion as evidenced by yardang fields, deflation pans, and wind-scoured bedrock landscapes. However, there are few quantitative estimates of bedrock removal by wind abrasion and deflation. Here, we report wind-erosion rates in the western Qaidam Basin in central China based on measurements of cosmogenic Be-10 in exhumed Miocene sedimentary bedrock. Sedimentary bedrock erosion rates range from 0.05 to 0.4 mm/yr, although the majority of measurements cluster at 0.125 +/- 0.05 mm/yr. These results, combined with previous work, indicate that strong winds, hyper-aridity, exposure of friable Neogene strata, and ongoing rock deformation and uplift in the western Qaidam Basin have created an environment where wind, instead of water, is the dominant agent of erosion and sediment transport. Its geographic location (upwind) combined with volumetric estimates suggest that the Qaidam Basin is a major source (up to 50%) of dust to the Chinese Loess Plateau to the east. TheDeserts are a major source of loess and may undergo substantial wind-erosion as evidenced by yardang fields, deflation pans, and wind-scoured bedrock landscapes. However, there are few quantitative estimates of bedrock removal by wind abrasion and deflation. Here, we report wind-erosion rates in the western Qaidam Basin in central China based on measurements of cosmogenic Be-10 in exhumed Miocene sedimentary bedrock. Sedimentary bedrock erosion rates range from 0.05 to 0.4 mm/yr, although the majority of measurements cluster at 0.125 +/- 0.05 mm/yr. These results, combined with previous work, indicate that strong winds, hyper-aridity, exposure of friable Neogene strata, and ongoing rock deformation and uplift in the western Qaidam Basin have created an environment where wind, instead of water, is the dominant agent of erosion and sediment transport. Its geographic location (upwind) combined with volumetric estimates suggest that the Qaidam Basin is a major source (up to 50%) of dust to the Chinese Loess Plateau to the east. The cosmogenically derived wind erosion rates are within the range of erosion rates determined from glacial and fluvial dominated landscapes worldwide, exemplifying the effectiveness of wind to erode and transport significant quantities of bedrock.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Alexander Rohrmann, Richard Heermance, Paul Kapp, Fulong Cai
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2013.03.011
ISSN:0012-821X
Parent Title (English):Earth & planetary science letters
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2013
Year of Completion:2013
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:Asia; Chinese Loess Plateau; climate; cosmogenic nuclide-dating; earth surface processes; wind
Volume:374
Pagenumber:10
First Page:1
Last Page:10
Funder:American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund [48729-ND8]; DFG-Leibniz Center for Surface Processes and Climate Studies at the Universitat Potsdam, Germany
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften
Peer Review:Referiert