Using Bulk XRF-Analysis of Chinese Loess to Determine High-Resolution Records of Dust Provenance

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract: Understanding the sources of the dust that forms the extensive loess deposits on the Chinese Loess Plateau is crucial for reconstructing atmospheric circulation patterns and dust pathways. Dust sources are however highly debated, mainly due to the low resolution of many records and the often ambiguous nature of geochemical proxies. The widely used concept of elemental ratios as provenance indicators is based on the idea that the relative abundance of immobile elements remains unaffected by chemical weathering, thereby preserving source signals. High-resolution spatial and temporal records of loess composition were determined for two study sites and three lithostratigraphic units using bulk X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis, and independently dated using Optically Stimulated (OSL) and post-IR Infrared Stimulated (pIR-IRSL) Luminescence dating. Four elemental ratios were chosen based on element properties of mobility and grain size, linear correlation strength and the existence of lithostratigraphic trends: Ti/Al, Si/Al, K/Al and Fe/Ti. Potential source signals were detected at both sites, at glacial-interglacial transitions as well as within lithostratigraphic units. Source changes detected within lithostratigraphic units show millennial-scale variability, indicating that abrupt shifts in dust provenance are possible. This implies that millennial-scale variability of the East Asian Monsoon may be related to changes in atmospheric dust content.

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