Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 297–312 | Cite as

A late Miocene ostracod record from the northeastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Fengyan LuEmail author
  • Zhisheng An
  • John Dodson
  • Xiangzhong Li
  • Hong Yan
Original Paper


Lake Qinghai, the largest inland brackish lake in China, is located on the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau and is affected by both the Asian Monsoon and Westerlies climate systems. It is very sensitive to climate and environmental changes. Moreover, its sediments accumulated over the Cenozoic Era and contain abundant information about past tectonics and environmental changes. Here we present a record of late Miocene ostracods from Lake Qinghai sediment cores. A taxonomic analysis of the ostracods yielded 7 families, 14 genera, and 31 species. Six distinct sediment facies were recognized and their corresponding paleolimnological and paleoenvironmental changes were inferred from the ostracod assemblages. The first appearance of ostracod shells at about 7.60 Ma reflects a switch from an eolian sedimentation facies (ca. 8.10–7.60 Ma) to a shallow lacustrine environment (ca. 7.60–5.85 Ma). Ostracod shells were absent from ca. 5.85 to 4.64 Ma in eolian sediments. A transition to a deep lacustrine facies began at ca. 4.64 Ma, and ended at ca. 3.58 Ma. Thus, Lake Qinghai existed in the late Miocene and became larger and deeper in the early Pliocene (ca. 4.64 Ma). During the time interval ca. 3.58–0.70 Ma, littoral lacustrine sedimentation occurred at the core sites. After ca. 0.70 Ma, there were alternating shallow lacustrine and lakeshore environments at the sites, until ca. 0.12 Ma. Changes in ostracod assemblages and their abundance during the intervals ca. 4.64–3.56 Ma and ca. 0.70–0.12 Ma indicate that the sedimentary environment fluctuated over short time scales. Given Lake Qinghai’s sensitivity to environmental and tectonic changes, related to its special location, we concluded that changes in the relative and absolute abundances of ostracods reflect the evolution of the Asian monsoon-arid environment and Plateau growth, as well as global climate changes.


Ostracoda Tibetan Plateau Late Miocene Taxonomy Paleolimnology 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Numbers 41602191, 41290250, and 41420104008), the National Key Funds of China (Grant Number 2013CB955900), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant Numbers QYZDY-SSW-DQC001 and ZDBS-SSW-DQC001). Many thanks to the Lake Qinghai Drilling Program for obtaining the valuable material, and to Prof. Zhencheng Sun from the University of Petroleum for his expert knowledge and instruction on ostracod taxonomy. We also thank editor M. Brenner and the reviewers for their critical comments which greatly improved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10933_2018_60_MOESM1_ESM.docx (61 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 62 kb)


  1. An ZS, Kutzbach JE, Prell WL, Porter SC (2001) Evolution of Asian monsoons and phased uplift of the Himalaya-Tibetan plateau since Late Miocene times. Nature 411:62–66. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. An ZS, Huang YS, Liu WG, Guo ZT, Clemens S, Li L, Prell W, Ning YF, Cai YJ, Zhu WJ, Lin BH, Zhang QL, Cao YN, Qiang XK, Chang H, Wu ZK (2005) Multiple expansions of C4 plant biomass ineast Asia since 7 Ma coupled with strengthened monsoon circulation. Geology 33:705–708. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. An ZS, Zhang PZ, Wang EQ, Wang SM, Qiang XK, Li L, Song YG, Chang H, Liu XD, Zhou WJ, Liu WG, Cao JJ, Li XQ, Shen J, Liu Y, Ai L (2006) Changes of the monsoon-arid environment in China and growth of the Tibetan Plateau since the Miocene. Quat Sci 26:678–693 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  4. An ZS, Colman SM, Zhou WJ, Li XQ, Brown ET, Jull AJT, Cai YJ, Huang YS, Lu XF, Chang H, Song YG, Sun YB, Xu H, Liu WG, Jin ZD, Liu XD, Cheng P, Liu Y, Ai L, Li XZ, Liu XJ, Yan LB, Shi ZG, Wang XL, Wu F, Qiang XK, Dong JB, Lu FY, Xu XW (2012) Interplay between the Westerlies and Asian monsoon recorded in Lake Qinghai sediments since 32 ka. Sci Rep 2:619. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anadón P, De Deckker P, Julià R (1986) The Pleistocene lake deposits of the NE Baza Basin (Spain): salinity variations and ostracod succession. Hydrobiologia 143:199–208. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cerling TE, Harris JM, MacFadden BJ, Leakey MG, Quade J, Eisenmann V, Ehleringer JR (1997) Global vegetation change through the Miocene/Pliocene boundary. Nature 389:153–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen KZ, Bowler J (1986) Late Pleistocene evolution of salt lakes in the Qaidam Basin, QinghaiProvince, China. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 54:87–104. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Colman SM, Yu SY, An ZS, Shen J, Henderson ACG (2007) Late Cenozoic climate changes in China’s western interior: a review of research on Lake Qinghai and comparison with other records. Quat Sci Rev 26:2281–2300. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Curry BB (1999) An environmental tolerance index for ostracodes as indicators of physical andchemical factors in aquatic habitats. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 148:51–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ding ZL, Yang SL, Sun JM, Liu TS (2001) Iron geochemistry of loess and red clay deposits in the Chinese Loess Plateau and implications for long-term Asian monsoon evolution in the last 7.0 Ma. Earth Planet Sci Lett 185:99–109. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fu CF, An ZS, Qiang XK, Bloemendal J, Song YG, Chang H (2013) Magnetostratigraphic determination of the age of ancient Lake Qinghai, and record of the East Asian monsoon since 4.63 Ma. Geology 41:875–878. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Griffiths HI, Holmes J (2000) Non-marine ostracods and Quaternary palaeoenvironments. Quaternary Research Association, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Guo ZT, Ruddiman WF, Hao QZ, Wu HB, Qiao YS, Zhu RX, Peng SZ, Wei JJ, Yuan BY, Liu TS (2002) Onset of Asian desertification by 22 Myr ago inferred from loess deposits in China. Nature 416:159–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Henderson ACG, Holmes JA, Zhang JW, Leng MJ, Carvalho LR (2003) A carbon- and oxygen-isotope record of recent environmental change from Qinghai Lake, NE Tibetan Plateau. Chin Sci Bull 48:1463–1468. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Herman P, Heip C, Vranken G (1983) The production of Cyprideis torosa Jones 1850 (Crustacea, Ostracoda). Oecologia 58:326–331. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holmes JA, Allen MJ, Street-Perrott FA, Ivanovich M, Perrott RA, Waller MP (1999) Late Holocene palaeolimnology of Bal Lake, Northern Nigeria, a multidisciplinary study. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 148:169–185. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hou YT, Gou YX (2007) China ostracodes, volume 2, Cytheraceae and Cytherellidae. Science Press, Beijing (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  18. Hou YT, Gou YX, Chen DQ (2002) China ostracodes, Cypridacea and Darwinulidaeceae, vol 1. Science Press, Beijing (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  19. Huang BR (1984a) Ostracodes of Pliocene and early Pleistocene in Gonghe Basin, Qinghai. Collections of Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CAS 19. Science Press, Beijing, pp 1–12 (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  20. Huang BR (1984b) Ostracodes of Quaternary in Lake Qinghai area. Collections of Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CAS7. Science Press, Beijing, pp 187–246 (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  21. Huang BR, Yang LF, Fan YQ (1985) Ostracodes in modern lakes bottom sediments of Tibet. Acta Micropalaeonotologica Sin 2:369–376 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  22. IEDQPA and NJGP (Institute of Exploration and Development of Qinghai Petroleum Administration, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of Academia Sinica) (1988) Tertiary ostracode fauna from Qaidam Basin, NW China. Nanjing University Press, Nanjing (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  23. Jin ZD, Bickle MJ, Chapman HJ, Yu JM, An ZS, Wang SM, Greaves MJ (2010) Ostracod Mg/Sr/Ca and 87Sr/86Sr geochemistry from Tibetan lake sediments: implications for early tomid-Pleistocene Indian monsoon and catchment weathering. Boreas 40:320–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Johnson NM, Opdyke ND, Johnson GD, Lindsay EH, Tahirkheli RAK (1982) Magnetic polarity stratigraphy and ages of Siwalik Group rocks of the Potwar, Pakistan. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 93:158–159Google Scholar
  25. Leroy S (1997) Climatic and non-climatic lake-level changes inferred from a Plio-Pleistocenelacustrine complex of Catalonia (Spain): palynology of the Tres Pins sequences. J Paleolimnol 17:347–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Li JJ, Fang XM (1999) Uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and environmental changes. Chin Sci Bull 44:2117–2124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Li YF, Zhu LP, Li BY (2002) Environmental changes and ostracoda in the Chen Co Lake of Southern Tibet in recent 1400 years. Acta Geogr Sinica 57(4):413–421 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  28. Li XZ, Liu WG (2014) Water salinity and productivity recorded by ostracod assemblages and their carbon isotopes since the early Holocene at Lake Qinghai on the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. China, Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 407:25–33. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Li YF, Zhang QS, Li BY, Liu F (1991) Late Pleistocene ostracoda from Bangong Lake, Xizang and its palaeogeographic significance. Acta Micropalaeontologica Sin 8:57–64 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  30. Li YF, Li BY, Wang G, Li SJ, Zhu ZY (1997) Ostracoda and its environmental significance at the ancient Tianshuihai Lake of the west Kunlun. J Lake Sci 9:223–230 (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li XZ, Liu WG, Zhang L, Sun ZC (2010) Distribution of Recent ostracod species in the Lake Qinghai area in northwestern China and its ecological significance. Ecol Indic 10:880–890. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Li JJ, Fang XM, Song CH, Pan BT, Ma YZ, Yan MD (2014) Late Miocene-Quaternary rapid stepwise uplift of the NE Tibetan Plateau and its effects on climatic and environmental changes. Quat Res 81:400–423. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lister GS, Kelts K, Chen KZ, Yu JQ, Niessen F (1991) Lake Qinghai, China: closed-basin like levels and the oxygen isotope record for ostracoda since the latest Pleistocene. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 84:141–162. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Liu JF, Zheng MP, Wang HL (2007) The late part of the late Pleistocene microfossil and environment change in Zaxi Lake, middle Tibet. Acta Geogr Sin 81:1639–1647 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  35. Lu FY, An ZS, Chang H, Dodson J, Qiang XK, Yan H, Dong JB, Song YG, Fu CF, Li XZ (2017) Climate change and tectonic activity during the early Pliocene Warm Period from the ostracod record at Lake Qinghai, northeastern Tibetan Plateau. J Asian Earth Sci 138:466–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. LZBC (Lanzhou Branch of CAS) (1994) Evolution of recent environment in Qinghai Lake and its prediction. Science Press, Beijing (in Chinese) Google Scholar
  37. Ma CM, Wang FB, Cao QY, Xia XC, Li SF, Li XS (2008) Climate and environment reconstruction during the Medieval Warm Period in Lop Nur of Xinjiang, China. Chin Sci Bull 53:3016–3027Google Scholar
  38. Meisch C (2000) Freshwater ostracoda of western and central Europe. Spektrum, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  39. Métivier F, Gaudemer Y, Tapponnier P, Meyer B (1998) Northeastward growth of the Tibet plateau deduced from balanced reconstruction of two depositional areas: the Qaidam and Hexi Corridor basins, China. Tectonics 17:823–842. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mischke S, Wünemann B (2006) The Holocene salinity history of Bosten Lake (Xinjiang, China) inferred from ostracod species assemblages and shell chemistry: possible palaeoclimaticimplications. Quat Int 154:100–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mischke S, Herzschuh U, Kürschner H, Fuchs D, Zhang JW, Meng F, Sun ZC (2003) Sub-Recent Ostracoda from Qilian Mountains (NW China) and their ecological significance. Limnol Ecol Manag Inland Waters 33:280–292. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nie JS, Stevens T, Song YG, King JW, Zhang R, Ji SC, Gong LS, Cares D (2014) Pacific freshening drives Pliocene cooling and Asian monsoon intensification. Sci Rep 4:5474. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rea DK, Snoeckx H, Joseph LH (1998) Late Cenozoic Eolian deposition in the North Pacific: Asian drying, Tibetan uplift, and cooling of the northern hemisphere. Paleoceanography 13:215–224. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Slack J, Kaesler R, Kontrovitz M (2000) Trend, signal and noise in the ecology of ostracoda:information from rare species in low-diversity assemblages. Hydrobiologia 419:181–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sun JM, Liu TS (2006) The age of the Taklimakan Desert. Science 312:1621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sun ZC, Feng XJ, Li DM, Yang F, Qu YH, Wang HJ (1999) Cenozoic Ostracoda and palaeoenvironments of the northeastern Tarim Basin, western China. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 148:37–50. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sun YB, An ZS, ClemensSC Bloemendal J, Vandenberghe J (2010) Seven million years of wind and precipitation variability on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Earth Planet Sci Lett 297:525–535. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wang JZ, Zhu DJ (1991) Quaternary ostracoda from Hongyuan and Zoige regions, Sichhuan. Acta Micropalaeontologica Sin 8:111–120 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  49. Wang JZ, Wang Q, Tian GQ (1987) Late Cenozoic ostracod assemblage sequence and their palaeoenvironment in Sanggan-Fenwei fault-depressional zone. Acta Micropalaeontologica Sin 4:409–421 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  50. Wang Q, Li CG, Tian GQ, Zhang WZ, Liu C, Ning LY, Yue J, Cheng ZG, He CY (2002) Tremendous change of the earth surface system and tectonicsetting of salt-lake formation in Yuncheng Basin since 7.1 Ma. Sci China Earth Sci 45:110–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wang PX, Zhao QH, Jian ZM, Cheng XR, Huang W, Tian J, Wang JL, Li QY, Li BH, Su X (2003) Thirty-million-year deep-sea records in the South China Sea. Chin Sci Bull 48:2524–2535. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wilkinson IP, Bubikyan SA, Gulakyan SZ (2005) The impact of late Holocene environmental change on lacustrine Ostracoda in Armenia. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 225:187–202. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yang F, Sun ZS, Ma ZQ, Zhang Y (1997) Quaternary ostracode zones and magnetostratigraphic profile in the Qaidam basin. Acta Micropalaeontologica Sin 14:378–390 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  54. Yang F, Qiao ZZ, Zhang HQ, Zhang YH, Sun ZC (2006) Features of the Cenozoic ostracod fauna and environmental significance in Qaidam Basin. J Palaeogeogr 8:143–156. (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  55. Yılmaz F, Külköylüoğlu O (2006) Tolerance, optimum ranges, and ecological requirements of freshwater Ostracoda (Crustacea) in Lake Aladağ (Bolu, Turkey). Ecol Res 21:165–173. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yin Y, Geiger W, Martens K (1999) Effects of genotype and environment on phenotypic variability in Limnocythere inopinata (Crustacea: Ostracoda). Hydrobiologia 400:85–114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yin Y, Li WC, Yang XD, Wang SM, Li SJ, Xia WL (2001) Morphological response of Limnocythere inopinata (Ostracoda) to hydrochemical environment factors. Sci China Earth Sci 44:316–323. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yu JQ, Kelts K (2002) Abrupt changes in climatic conditions across the late-glacial/Holocene transition on the N. E. Tibet-Qinghai Plateau: evidence from Lake Qinghai, China. J Paleolimnol 28:195–206. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yu N, Zhao QH, Schornikov EL, Chen LQ (2005) Recent ostracods from the Taihu lake. Acta Micropalaeonotologica Sin 22:195–206 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  60. Zeng C (2008) Isotopic records for carbonates from lake Qinghai and adjacent area and changes of the monsoon-arid environment (in Chinese). Thesis for Doctoral degree, Xi’an, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of SciencesGoogle Scholar
  61. Zeng MX, Song YG, An ZS, Chang H, Li Y (2014) Clay mineral records of the Erlangjian drill core sediments from the Lake Qinghai Basin, China. Sci China Earth Sci 57:1846–1859. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zhang PX, Zhang BZ, Yang WB (1989) Environmental evolution of the water body of Qinghai Lake since the postglacial age. Chin J Geochem 1:66–77Google Scholar
  63. Zhang PX, Zhang BZ, Qian GM, Li HJ, Xu LM (1994) The study of paleoclimatic parameter of Qinghai Lake since Holocene. Quat Sci 3:225–238 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  64. Zhang EL, Shen J, Wang SM, Yin Y, Zhu YX, Xia WL (2004) Quantitative reconstruction of the paleosalinity at Qinghai Lake in the past 900 years. Chin Sci Bull 49:730–734. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zhang HC, Wang Q, Peng JL, Chen GJ (2008) Ostracod assemblages and their paleoenvironmental significance from shell bar section of paleolake Qarhan, Qaidam basin. Quat Sci 28:103–111 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fengyan Lu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zhisheng An
    • 1
  • John Dodson
    • 1
  • Xiangzhong Li
    • 1
  • Hong Yan
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina

Personalised recommendations