Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 511–532 | Cite as

Geochemical imprints of coupled paleoenvironmental and provenance change in the lacustrine sequence of Orog Nuur, Gobi Desert of Mongolia

  • Kaifeng Yu
  • Frank Lehmkuhl
  • Bernhard Diekmann
  • Christian Zeeden
  • Veit Nottebaum
  • Georg Stauch
Original paper


In the arid environment, due to the scarcity of a continuous terrestrial archive, lacustrine sequences are often employed as a paleoenvironmental repository. However, numerous spatial and temporal heterogeneities exist concerning previously studied sites in arid central Asia. Furthermore, surveys using a XRF core scanning technique on lacustrine sequences retrieved in hyperarid desert settings are largely rare. Hence, two parallel sediment cores (ONW I; ONW II) were retrieved from Orog Nuur, in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Continuous, high-resolution elemental abundances at a 1-cm scanning step size were examined in core ONW II using XRF core scanning. To constrain the data quality, elements with high error margins relative to measured peak areas and those elements/proxies below the significance level during the multivariate statistics are excluded for environmental/provenance implications. Based on multivariate statistical evaluation, the bulk-geochemistry of the core sediments are governed by (1) grain-size composition, (2) authigenic productivity (Ca, Cl, CaCO3) in an alkaline environment, (3) allochthonous organic material (TOC and C/Natomic), and (4) terrigenous input via fluvial inflows, as well as quasi-constant aeolian input through the late Quaternary (Al, Si, K, Ti, and Fe). Disparate source lithotypes, as well as authigenic productivity of the lake system existed before and after Termination I. The Holocene was dominated by a distinct high productivity alkaline environment with more felsic and alkaline input relative to the late Pleistocene. This might be attributed to an increased hydrodynamic strength of riverine inflow and/or intensified erosion and weathering of felsic source rocks in the upper catchment of the Orog Nuur. Therefore, in order to gain a better understanding of the bulk-geochemistry of lake sediments, the coupled provenance and environmental signatures, as well as land surface processes in the catchment need to be systematically discerned. Thus, the XRF core scanning data obtained in this study would have practical and complimentary merit for other lacustrine studies focused on the desert realm across the globe.


XRF core scanning Orog Nuur Provenance Grain size Late Quaternary Gobi Desert 



This study was funded by the German Research Foundation (LE 730/16-1), China Scholarship Council (201306190112), and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41701232). Fieldwork was supported by the Institute of Geography of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences (D Dorjgotov, A Tschimegsaichan). Radiocarbon dating was financed by a scholarship issued to W Murad. I Pipaud helped with the geologic mapping. F Schlütz and T Felauer supported the field work. We sincerely appreciate the constructive discussion with S Mischke, J Grunert, FH Chen, ACG Henderson, HY Lu, ZD Feng, JL Xiao, D Fleitmann, P Schulte, and I Obreht during the INQUA 2015 and EGU 2016. Editors TJ Whitmore, C Zhao, M Brenner, M Riedinger-Whitmore, and three anonymous reviewers are sincerely appreciated for improving the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 13 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 377 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (XLSX 1026 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 15 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Alfred Wegener InstituteHelmholtz Center for Polar and Marine ResearchPotsdamGermany
  3. 3.Energy and Climate Change DivisionGlobal Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation OrganizationBeijingChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina

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