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Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (1): 1-12    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0137-6
Research Articles     
Optically stimulated luminescence dating of sandy deposits from Gulang county at the southern margin of the Tengger Desert, China
PENG Jun1*, DONG Zhibao1, HAN Fengqing2
1 Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China;
2 Qinghai Institute of Salt Lakes, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810008, China
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Abstract  Aeolian deposits from the deserts in northern China have been used for palaeoenvironmental research to understand aeolian sedimentology and its dynamic connection to past climate conditions. The Tengger Desert in China is sensitive to the waxing and waning of the monsoonal system. In response to past climate change, the southern margin of the Tengger Desert has evolved significantly since the last glacial period. However, previous attempts to date aeolian deposits in this region were mainly based on radiocarbon dating, which has problems when applied to aeolian deposits. Moreover, sedimentary records are limited. Accordingly, past aeolian activity in this desert remains poorly understood. In the present study, we dated sand samples from Gulang county at the southern margin of the Tengger Desert using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) to understand the history of aeolian activity in this region. Our samples represented well-sorted aeolian sands and sandy loess. Aeolian sands are evidence of dune field buildup and sparse vegetation cover whereas sandy loess is evidence of improved stabilization of sand dunes resulting from ameliorated vegetation cover. Certain samples showed a decline in the equivalent dose (De) values when successive integration intervals were applied, which resulted from unstable OSL signals from non-fast components in the initial part of the decay curve. In order to obtain reliable De estimates, we investigated component-resolved and different background subtraction approaches, and compared the resultant De estimates. We adopted the early background subtraction method to derive De values. Luminescence chronologies and sedimentary records indicated that sand dunes accumulation occurred before 10 ka, and sandy loess developed between 9.5 and 7.6 ka when sand dunes were stabilized as a result of increased effective moisture levels. The transition between sand dune mobilization and stabilization emphasizes the significance of an effective moisture threshold in controlling aeolian activity. Mobilization of sand dunes at ~2.3 ka might be related to an increased aridity during the Late Holocene.

Key wordsgravel mulch      mulching duration      permanganate-oxidizable carbon      light fraction organic carbon      microbial biomass carbon     
Received: 20 January 2015      Published: 10 February 2016

This study was funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB956000, 2012CB426501).

Cite this article:

PENG Jun, DONG Zhibao, HAN Fengqing. Optically stimulated luminescence dating of sandy deposits from Gulang county at the southern margin of the Tengger Desert, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(1): 1-12.

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