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    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Atmospheric and hydrospheric sciences


    Relationship between tectonism and desertification inferred from provenance and lithofacies changes in the Cenozoic terrestrial sequence of the southwestern Tarim Basin

    Sakuma A, Tada R, Yoshida T, Hasegawa H, Sugiura N, Karasuda A, Wang K, Zheng H

    Tarim Basin, Pamir, ESR signal intensity, Desertification, Aertashi section, Provenance

    Temporal changes in the ESR signal intensity and CI of the Aertashi section

    The modern-day Tarim Basin is covered almost entirely by the Taklimakan sand desert and is one of the most arid regions in the world. Unraveling the aridification history of the desert is important for understanding global climate changes during the Cenozoic, yet the timing and mechanisms driving its formation remain controversial. One of the leading hypotheses is that the uplift of the Pamir, located to the west of the Tarim Basin, blocked the intrusion of moist air and induced the aridification in the Tarim Basin. In this study, we explore the linkage between the uplift of the Pamir and the desertification in the Tarim Basin from the late Eocene to the middle Miocene in the Aertashi section, which is located at the southwestern edge of the Tarim Basin and offers the longest sedimentary record with a reliable age model. Provenance changes in fluvial deposits along the Aertashi section were examined using electron spin resonance (ESR) signal intensity and crystallinity index (CI) of quartz in the sand fraction of fluvial sandstones and clast counting based on the identification of clast types by thin section observation to identify timings of tectonic events in the Pamir, from which clastic materials were supplied to the Aertashi section by rivers. Our results suggest that major provenance changes in the drainage of the paleo-Yarkand river delivering clasts to the Aertashi section occurred at ca. 27, 20, and 15 Ma. These timings are mostly consistent with those observed in previous provenance studies in the Aertashi section and probably reflect tectonic events in the Pamir. On the other hand, according to the previous studies, the first occurrence of sand dune deposits indicates that the Tarim Basin was relatively arid after ca. 34 Ma. Hence, our result does not support the hypothesis that the initial aridification in the Tarim Basin was triggered by the uplift of the Pamir and the resultant blocking of moisture supply from the Paratethys Sea, although the subsequent intensification of tectonic events at ca. 27 Ma in the Pamir might have caused aridification indicated by the initiation of loess deposition.