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Open AccessArticle

Evolution of the Upper Yellow River as Revealed by Changes in Heavy-Mineral and Geochemical (REE) Signatures of Fluvial Terraces (Lanzhou, China)

1
Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environment Systems (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
2
Laboratory for Provenance Studies, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, 20126 Milano, Italy
3
CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing 100101, China
4
School of Tourism and Resource Environment, Zaozhuang University, Zaozhuang 277160, China
5
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, 1516 Illinois Street, Golden, CO 80401, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2019, 9(10), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9100603
Received: 5 September 2019 / Revised: 27 September 2019 / Accepted: 28 September 2019 / Published: 30 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Minerals)
Despite decades of study, the factors that controlled the formation and evolution of the upper reaches of the Yellow River, including uplift of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, Pliocene-Pleistocene climate change, and autogenetic processes are still poorly constrained. The stratigraphic record of such paleogeographic evolution is recorded in the sequence of nine terraces formed during progressive incision of the Yellow River in the last 1.7 Ma. This article investigates in detail for sediment provenance in terraces of the Lanzhou area, based on heavy-mineral and geochemical (REE) signatures. Two main provenance changes are identified, pointing each to a major paleogeographic reorganization coupled with expansion of the upper Yellow River catchment and enhanced sediment fluxes. The first change took place between the deposition of terrace T9 (formed around 1.7 Ma) and terrace T8 (formed around 1.5 Ma), when rapid fluvial incision point to tectonic control and active uplift of northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The second change took place between deposition of terrace T4 (formed around 0.86 Ma) and terrace T3 (formed around 0.14 Ma), during a period of low incision rates and notably enhanced sediment fluxes as a response to enhanced East Asian Summer Monsoon and consequently increased precipitations, pointing instead chiefly to climatic control. View Full-Text
Keywords: provenance analysis; tectonic versus climatic control; early-middle Pleistocene transition; Yellow River terraces; Lanzhou (northern China) provenance analysis; tectonic versus climatic control; early-middle Pleistocene transition; Yellow River terraces; Lanzhou (northern China)
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Wang, Z.; Zhang, H.; Garzanti, E.; Nie, J.; Peng, W.; Andò, S.; Hu, X.; Pan, B.; Pfaff, K. Evolution of the Upper Yellow River as Revealed by Changes in Heavy-Mineral and Geochemical (REE) Signatures of Fluvial Terraces (Lanzhou, China). Minerals 2019, 9, 603.

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