Downwind aeolian sediment accumulations associated with lake-level variations of the Qinghai Lake during the Holocene, Northeastern Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau

  • Xiang-Jun LiuEmail author
  • Lu Cong
  • Fuyuan An
  • Xiaodong Miao
  • Chongyi E
Original Article


Many lakes in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau (QTP) have aeolian sands distributed in their downwind shores. However, it has been rarely systemically investigated on whether the downwind dune sand and lake evolved in association with each other or they evolved independently. Here we take the well known Qinghai Lake and its downwind sand area as a case study to investigate the issue of water–sand interaction. Grain size, magnetic susceptibility and geochemical data along with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages suggest that the downwind eastern shore sandy lands co-varied with the lake level fluctuations (or lake extension changes) of the Qinghai Lake during the Holocene epoch. During the early Holocene lake lowstands (11–9 ka, ka is 1000 years), vast areas of exposed lacustrine sediments were eroded by prevailing westerly winds, therefore, causing sand to accumulate at the eastern shore bajada areas along the west piedmonts of the Riyue Mount, and to expand along the Daotang River valley. In contrast, during the mid to late Holocene lake highstands (7–1.2 ka), eastern shore dune sands were largely stabilized, and loess accumulated and even paleosol developed, leading to substantial shrinkage of the eastern shore sandy lands. In addition, using GIS tool, we reconstructed the spatial extensions of the lake during highstand (Mid-Holocene) and lowstand (Early Holocene), and eastern shore desert range of early Holocene. As a result, this study indicates a close connection between the lakes in QTP and the aeolian sands downwind.


Aeolian sediments Lake level variations Qinghai Lake Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau Holocene 



This work was jointly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41671006) and the grant of Youth Innovation Promotion Association of CAS (2015350). Thanks to Prof. Ruijie Lu for providing data of KTN section, to Dr Luhua Xie and Professor Shuzhen Peng for measurements of TOC, MS and GS, to Derong Wang for XRF measurements and Fangming Zeng for useful discussion. Thanks two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their constructive suggestions that improved the quality of this paper.

Supplementary material

12665_2018_8025_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 19 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Comprehensive and Highly Efficient Utilization of Salt Lake Resources, Qinghai Institute of Salt LakesChinese Academy of SciencesXiningChina
  2. 2.Qinghai Provincial Key Laboratory of Geology and Environment of Salt Lake, Qinghai Institute of Salt LakesChinese Academy of SciencesXiningChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.School of Resources and Environmental SciencesLinyi UniversityLinyiChina
  5. 5.School of GeographyQinghai Normal UniversityXiningChina

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