Paleoelevation reconstruction of the Paleocene-Eocene Gonjo basin, SE-central Tibet

Maoyun Tang, Jing Liu-Zeng, Gregory D. Hoke, Qiang Xu, Weitao Wang, Zhanfei Li, Jinyu Zhang, Wei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The topography evolution of the southeastern Tibetan Plateau provides a constraint for evaluating various geodynamic models of plateau formation. We reconstruct the Paleocene to Eocene paleoelevation of the Cenozoic Gonjo basin in the Qiangtang terrane, using oxygen and carbon stable isotopic results from pedogenic carbonates of the lower Ranmugou Formation. Lithofacies associations indicate that the lower Ranmugou Formation was deposited in alluvial fan and fluvial floodplain environments. U-Pb dating of volcanics within the middle Ranmugou Formation constrains the deposition of the lower Ranmugou Formation as prior to 43.2 Ma. Paleoelevations are calculated using both a thermodynamic model and an empirical relationship. The empirical relationship of elevation-δ18O is determined from a series of modern water samples. Calculated paleoelevations indicate that the Gonjo basin attained a minimum average elevation of 2100–2500 m in the early Eocene. Together with recent paleoaltimetry studies in the region, it can be concluded that the crust of southeastern Tibetan Plateau was already thickened by that time. The calculation is based on the section in northern Gonjo basin, where δ18O values of paleosol nodules appear to be unaltered, but we cannot rule out the possibility that δ18O values of the pedogenic carbonates had been partially reset. Our preliminary results favor tectonic models compatible with pre-Miocene uplift of the SE-central Tibetan Plateau.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-181
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Aug 21 2017


  • Paleocene-Eocene
  • Paleoelevation
  • Southeast Tibetan Plateau
  • Stable isotope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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