Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 183–194 | Cite as

Underestimated 14C-based chronology of late Pleistocene high lake-level events over the Tibetan Plateau and adjacent areas: Evidence from the Qaidam Basin and Tengger Desert

  • Hao LongEmail author
  • Ji ShenEmail author
Research Paper


The palaeolake evolution across the Tibetan Plateau and adjacent areas has been extensively studied, but the timing of late Pleistocene lake highstands remains controversial. Robust dating of lacustrine deposits is of importance in resolving this issue. This paper presents 14C or optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) age estimates from two sets of late Quaternary lacustrine sequences in the Qaidam Basin and Tengger Desert (northeastern Tibetan Plateau). The updated dating results show: (1) the radiocarbon dating technique apparently underestimated the age of the strata of >30 ka BP in Qaidam Basin; (2) although OSL and 14C dating agreed with each other for Holocene age samples in the Tengger Desert area, there was a significant offset in dating results of sediments older than ∼30 ka BP, largely resulting from radiocarbon dating underestimation; (3) both cases imply that most of the published radiocarbon ages (e.g., older than ∼30 ka BP) should be treated with caution and perhaps its geological implication should be revaluated; and (4) the high lake events on the Tibetan Plateau and adjacent areas, traditionally assigned to MIS 3a based on 14C dating, are likely older than ∼80 ka based on OSL chronology.


Tibetan Plateau lake highstand lacustrine sediments 14C dating OSL dating 


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Lake Sciences and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina

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