Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 1227–1237 | Cite as

An assessment and comparison of 230Th and AMS 14C ages for lacustrine sediments from Qarhan Salt Lake area in arid western China

  • QiShun Fan
  • HaiZhou Ma
  • ZhiBang Ma
  • HaiCheng Wei
  • FengQing Han
Original Article


The age framework of Qarhan Salt Lake in arid western China is still controversial due in part to (1) age discrepancy between conventional 14C and 230Th dating results, and (2) no AMS 14C ages of organic carbon from drilling cores in Qarhan Salt Lake were reported until now. In order to discuss these chronological problems, upper 54.50 m lacustrine sediments from a drilling core (ISL1A) recovered from Qarhan Salt Lake were dated based on 230Th and AMS 14C dating techniques. Results show that (1) AMS 14C ages of total organic carbon (TOC) from 4.65 to 30.29 m are almost in stratigraphic order and consistent with 230Th ages of halite in the corresponding layers; (2) AMS 14C ages of TOC from 30.29 to 54.50 m are younger with increasing depth. This phenomenon was also found in Shell Bar in the study area, suggesting that AMS 14C ages from upper 30.29 m are more reliable while those from lower 24.21 m in ISL1A may be underestimated; (3) 230Th ages of halite from lower 24 m lacustrine sediments are obviously older than AMS 14C ages of TOC in the corresponding layers, which results into different age framework of salt lake sediments in Qarhan Salt Lake; (4) if extrapolating these reliable AMS 14C ages in ISL1A, similar age framework with 230Th ages in this core confirms that 230Th ages are much close to the true ages of these sediments, which suggests that the forming timing of the bottom salt layer is ~50 ka.


230Th and AMS 14C dating The forming timing of the bottom salt layer Qarhan Salt Lake Qaidam Basin 



We thank Prof. FaShou Shan and ZhiGuo Sun, Dr. Hao Long, ShanPing Li, Jun Zhao, ZhanJun Sha, BingKai Li and Song Jiang for their help in field work. We specially thank Prof. PengXi Zhang, Qi Huang and XingQi Liu for their helpful discussion and Dr. James W. LaMoreaux and anonymous referee for their helpful comments in this work. This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41002060, 41272274), West Light Foundation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Foundation of Youth Innovation Promotion Association of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant to QS Fan).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • QiShun Fan
    • 1
  • HaiZhou Ma
    • 1
  • ZhiBang Ma
    • 2
  • HaiCheng Wei
    • 1
  • FengQing Han
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Geology and Environment of Salt Lake, Qinghai Institute of Salt LakesChinese Academy of SciencesXiningChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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