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Journal of Arid Land

Abstract

Loess deposits with varying thickness are widely distributed on the intermontane valleys and piedmont zones on the northern side of the central Shandong mountainous regions. However, the basal ages and material resources of the loess deposits are not clear. The paper studied the Qingzhou loess profile in Shandong with magnetostratigraphic and optical stimulated luminescence (OSL) methods and further investigated its main provenances with the mineralogical methods. The magnetostratigraphic results showed that the Brun-hes/Matuyama (B/M) reversal boundary was not recognized, suggesting a basal age younger than 0.78 Ma. Extrapolations by sedimentation rates, based on the upper part depositional rate from the OSL age, the basal age of the Qingzhou loess is about 0.5 Ma. Until now, older loess deposits have not been reported on the northern side of the central Shandong mountainous regions. The results of the paper indicate that the loess deposits in this area might have strated from the Middle Pleistocene. The basal age of Qingzhou loess is approximately synchronous with the Xiashu loess in the middle-lower reaches of Yangtze River. Major com-ponents of clay minerals in the Qingzhou profile are dominated by illite. Other clay mineral compositions are mainly smectite, chlorite and kaolinite, which are similar with the Xifeng loess in the Loess Plateau. However, the contents of smectite and the ratios of illite and kaolinte in the Qingzhou loess samples are higher than those in the Xifeng loess samples of the Loess Plateau, indicating that the loess in the northern side of the central Shandong mountainous regions has different sources from that of the loess deposits in the Loess Plateau. The clay mineral analysis further reinforces the earlier conclusion that the marine strata exposed in the Laizhou Bay and the fluvial plain of the lower reaches of Yellow River during the glacier periods are the main material sources for the Qingzhou loess deposits, which is an indicator to the local aridification of the lower reaches of the Yellow River. Loess deposition in the central Shandong mountainous regions started at around 0.5 Ma. The age of Qingzhou loess is approximately synchronous with the ongoing high-latitude cold since the Middle Pleistocene, which indicates that strengthened East Asian winter monsoon was sufficiently energetic to bring substantial quantities of material from the marine strata exposed in the Laizhou Bay and the fluvial plain of the lower reaches of the Yellow River to the central Shandong mountainous regions. The results therefore suggest that both regional geological process and global changes were responsible for the formation of Qingzhou loess since Middle Pleistocene.

Keywords

Loess; magnetostratigraphy; sedimentology; material provenance; Qingzhou

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