EGU21-15919, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The aggradation process of transversal dunes since late-Pleistocene in Badain Jaran Desert, northwest China revealed by OSL dating

Qinjing Shen and Zhongping Lai
Qinjing Shen and Zhongping Lai
  • Shantou University, Marine Sciences, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Marine Biotechnology, China

Transversal dunes are widespread in many deserts, but the application of these un-stabilized dunes in the palaeoclimate region is limited. Because transversal dunes normally migrate too fast, which means this kind of dune has a low possibility to record long period paleoclimate information. Nevertheless, both model simulations and field observation demonstrate that larger (higher) dunes containing a greater mass of sand have longer turn-over times. If so, there may be particular giant transversal dunes, in which long periods of climate changes are actually preserved and could be used as geoproxy to reconstruct paleoenvironment changes.

The Badain Jaran desert, situated in north-western China, features the tallest dunes (about 480 m) on the earth. More than 50% of the sand sea is covered by transversal dunes with an average height of 200 to 300 m. Here, we investigated two representative mega-dunes in the center of the desert and took 22 OSL samples systematically to try to reconstruct the deposition history of these two mega-dunes. Our result demonstrates that one of the dunes is formed since ~62 ka, with two phases of superposed dunes dated to 26~32 ka and modern time. Another mage-dune started to deposited from 29 ka and climbed by early to middle Holocene superposed-dunes and modern ones. Furthermore, while other active sand seas preserve scarcely aeolian sand deposited during the LGM period (Last Glacial Maximum: 26.5-19.0 ka BP), 11 of our 22 OSL dating results fall into the LGM period, which indicates that mega-dunes in the Badain Jaran desert continue aggradation during LGM. In that case,we speculate there are at least three factors facilitating the mega-dunes in Badain Jaran desert different from other transversal dunes that can preserve LGM sediments. (1) Badain Jaran desert, situated in a relatively subsiding basin, has a favor deposition condition; (2) The desert is close to the aeolian sand provenance area, an alluvial fan stored abundant silt-sand material derived from the southeast Tibet; (3) the shallow buried wet sand in Badain Jaran desert may promote the formation of the mega-dunes and reduce their migration speed, so that extend the turn-over times of the mega-dunes.

How to cite: Shen, Q. and Lai, Z.: The aggradation process of transversal dunes since late-Pleistocene in Badain Jaran Desert, northwest China revealed by OSL dating, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15919,, 2021.

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