The Age of the Taklimakan Desert

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Science  16 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5780, pp. 1621
DOI: 10.1126/science.1124616

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The Taklimakan Desert is located in the foreland basin of the Tibetan Plateau. We report here the results of stratigraphic investigations of a 1626-meter-thick sequence with interbedded wind-blown silt from the southern marginal Taklimakan Desert. Because the studied section is located downwind of the desert, the eolian silt accumulation is closely linked to desert formation. Our new evidence indicates that shifting sand dunes prevailed in the Tarim Basin by at least 5.3 million years ago, as they do today. We attribute this event to late Cenozoic climatic deterioration, as well as to changes in atmospheric circulation induced by Tibetan Plateau uplift.

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