International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 98, Issue 5, pp 1063–1075 | Cite as

Monitoring Cenozoic climate evolution of northeastern Tibet: stable isotope constraints from the western Qaidam Basin, China

  • Andrea B. RieserEmail author
  • Ana-Voica Bojar
  • Franz Neubauer
  • Johann Genser
  • Yongjiang Liu
  • Xiao-Hong Ge
  • Gertrude Friedl
Original Paper


Carbon and oxygen stable isotopic composition of Cenozoic lacustrine carbonates from the intramontane Qaidam Basin yields cycles of variable length and shows several distinct events driven by tectonics and climate changes. From Eocene to Oligocene, the over-all trend in the δ13C composition of lacustrine carbonates shows a shift toward higher values, possibly related to higher proportions of dissolved inorganic carbon transported to the lake or lower input of soil derived CO2. At the same time, the δ18O composition of lacustrine carbonates is decreasing in accordance with the global cooling trend and northwards drifting of the whole region. During the Miocene, distinct isotopic events can be recognized, although their interpretation and linkage to a certain tectonic event remains difficult. These events may be related to uplift in the Himalayas, to the strongest phase of uplift in the Altyn Mountains, to pronounced subsidence of the Qaidam Basin or to the expansion of C4 plants on land. Generally cold, highly evaporative conditions can be deduced from enrichment of δ18O isotopic compositions during Pliocene and Quaternary times.


Stable isotopes Intracontinental basin Climate change Evaporation Lacustrine carbonate 



We gratefully acknowledge the permission by Ma Lixiang (Department of Petroleum, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan) to use the lithostratigraphic section of Hongsanhan Third High Peak Valley. We acknowledge continuous support for fieldwork in the Qaidam Basin by both NSF of China and Qinghai Oil Company. Ana-Voica Bojar acknowledges partial financial support by FWF project P16258-N06. This manuscript has profited from a review of an earlier version by Frédéric Fluteau and consequent review by two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea B. Rieser
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Ana-Voica Bojar
    • 2
  • Franz Neubauer
    • 1
  • Johann Genser
    • 1
  • Yongjiang Liu
    • 3
  • Xiao-Hong Ge
    • 3
  • Gertrude Friedl
    • 1
  1. 1.Division General Geology and GeodynamicsUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  2. 2.Institute of Earth SciencesUniversity of GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.College of Earth SciencesJilin UniversityChangchunChina
  4. 4.WettingenSwitzerland

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