Formation process of a large paleolandslide-dammed lake at Xuelongnang in the upper Jinsha River, SE Tibetan Plateau: constraints from OSL and 14C dating

Abstract

A large number of the landslide dams located on the major rivers at the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau have been previously identified through remote sensing analysis and field investigations. The Xuelongnang paleolake was one of the lakes formed by these landslide dams in the upper Jinsha River, where the association of a relict landslide dam, lacustrine sediment, and outburst sediment is well preserved. This preservation provides an opportunity to better understand the formation, evolution, and longevity of a large landslide-dammed lake in the upper Jinsha River. It was inferred that the Xuelongnang dammed lake may have been formed by an earthquake-induced paleoavalanche. The surface area of the lake at its peak was estimated at 7.0 × 106 m2, and the corresponding volume was approximately 3.1 × 108 m3. Two outburst flood events were determined to have occurred during the life span of the lake. Based on the 18 ages obtained from optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and carbon-14 (14C) dating combined with stratigraphic sequences observed in the field, the paleolandslide-dammed lake was formed at approximately 2.1 ka and subsequently breached locally. The dammed lake was sustained for a period of some 900 years based on the chronological constraining. This study confirms that a major landslide-dammed lake can be sustained for at least hundreds of years and breached by several dam breaks in multiple periods, which contributed to the preservation of the knickpoints at millennial scale along the major rivers in the study area.

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Funding

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants nos. 41571012 and 41230743), the Open Research Fund of the State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycles in River Basins (grant no. IWHR-SKL-201507), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant no. 2652015060).

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Correspondence to Jian Chen.

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Chen, J., Zhou, W., Cui, Z. et al. Formation process of a large paleolandslide-dammed lake at Xuelongnang in the upper Jinsha River, SE Tibetan Plateau: constraints from OSL and 14C dating. Landslides 15, 2399–2412 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-018-1056-3

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Keywords

  • Paleolake
  • Optical dating
  • Formation process
  • Landslide dam