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Stable isotope evidence for a Paleogene high-altitude setting of the Sikeshu drainage basin in the northern Tianshan, western China

Zhang, Wengao, Chen, Zhengle, Han, Fengbin, Zhang, Qing, Pan, Jiayong, Ma, Ji, Yang, Bin
Geomorphology 2019 v.342 pp. 51-60
Gastropoda, Paleogene period, altitude, carbonates, diagenesis, fossils, mountains, oxygen, sandstone, stable isotopes, watersheds, China
Paleo-altitude reconstructions using oxygen isotopes provide past surface elevation data that can constrain the topographic evolution of mountain belts. This paper presents oxygen and carbon stable isotopic compositions of gastropod fossils, carbonate cements, and shelly sandstones in the Anjihai and Shawan formations located in the Sikeshu drainage basin, northern Tianshan, western China. Correlations between the stable isotopic compositions and lithofacies suggest that the Sikeshu drainage basin was mainly an open hydrological depositional environment. Based on the oxygen isotopic compositions of the gastropod fossils and petrographic examination, the δ13C and δ18O values have not been reset by late-stage diagenesis. Paleo-altitudes were reconstructed using the corrected paleo-surface water δ18Opsw values recovered from gastropod fossils, carbonate cements, and shelly sandstones. An empirical formula was developed to calculate the paleo-latitudes when the Anjihai and Shawan formations were deposited. The paleo-altitude of the Sikeshu drainage basin had attained an elevation exceeding 2000 m by 28 Ma, similar to the present-day elevation in this area. This conclusion contributes to our understanding of the extent of surface uplift in the Cenozoic of Tianshan and the climatic differences on either side of Tianshan during the Cenozoic.