Radiometric dating of the late Quaternary summer monsoon on the Loess Plateau, China

Thomas Stevens, Huayu Lu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Recent advances in radiometric dating have enabled independent investigation
into monsoon variations. In this study, summer monsoon pedogenesis proxies (CaCO3 and magnetic susceptibility) have been analysed by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) age for five loess-palaeosol sections over the Chinese Loess Plateau. The use of CaCO3 is complicated by the multiple influences on its variation. However, changes in magnetic susceptibility can be used as a proxy for summer monsoon induced pedogenesis. The data suggest that the summer monsoon in north-central China is not prone to high frequency shifts, although abrupt transitions occur. The overall patterns show general decreasing trends from c. 50 to 18 ka. However, between 9 and 6 ka, magnetic susceptibility increases abruptly and dramatically at the sites. These findings suggest that the Holocene ‘optimum’ in the region may be a more recent phenomenon than previously suggested, and that this summer monsoon intensity increase significantly post-dates the insolation peak occurring at 11.5 ka. An apparent close correspondence to ice volume is suggested to be a consequence of forcing via atmospheric circulation. Independently dated records that employ high sampling resolution can be used to test this hypothesis, together with suggestions over the apparent lag between insolation forcing and monsoon response.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMonsoon Evolution and Tectonic-Climate Linakge in Asia
EditorsPeter D. Clift, Ryuji Tada, Hongbo Zheng
PublisherGeological Society of London Special Publication
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)1-86239-310-3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2010

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