Sediment from the Last Two Glacial Periods Amalgamated and Re-Entrained in the Alluvial Piedmont of the North Tian Shan
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The history of the planet is recorded in its sedimentary basins where the product of mountain erosion is stored, reflecting climatic and tectonic forcing. Were the sediments and the signal they carry to be immediately deposited in a basin, paleo-reconstructions would be straightforward as the age and nature of a deposit would be a testimony of the source and transfer conditions. The sometime intricate path of clastic material along the sediment routing system complicates greatly the situation. We set here to investigate quantitatively the effect of an alluvial piedmont on the sediment flux that crosses it en route to a basin. We focus on the northern piedmont of the Tian Shan (Xinjiang, China). The piedmont is actively deformed by a fold-and-thrust system and experienced several cycles of incision and aggradation in the Pleistocene. We present new OSL dating of terrace and fan material. These data suggest that the most prominent terraces match three glacial maxima 100 kyr apart; thereby the landscape would primarily react to eccentricity cycles. As a consequence, a significant fraction of sediments produced in that period is temporarily deposited in the piedmont before a later incision phase can deliver it to the basin. The OSL ages of alluvial fan strata exposed and recently eroded by the incising river hint at two aggradation phases during the last two glacial periods. Furthermore lose sediment dated at 300 ka is found to be available along the transport route of the sediments and likely entrained during incision phases. We expect the modern sediment flux entering the basin to contain a significant amount of recycled material as old as 180 ka and a non-negligible amount of recycled material as old as 300 ka that can significantly skew geochemical or provenance studies if ignored.