Temporal and spatial patterns of sediment routing across the southeast margin of the Tibetan Plateau: Insights from detrital zircon

Gregory K. Wissink, Gregory D. Hoke, Carmala N. Garzione, Jing Liu-Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The Cenozoic deposits of the Tibetan Plateau's southeastern margin are often cited as part of a continental-scale river system connecting the Paleo-Yangtze River with the Paleo-Red River. Confirming the purported connection and any subsequent drainage reorganization has garnered significant attention and varied proposed ages for reorganization. This study presents detrital zircon U-Pb ages and paleocurrents in Eocene to Pleistocene sedimentary basin deposits distributed over a broad area of the southeast Tibetan Plateau margin within the area of proposed paleoriver connectivity. When combined with previously published studies, our U-Pb ages allow examination of the temporal and spatial distributions of provenance throughout the Cenozoic. We identify six key age components of the detrital U-Pb age distributions and use these to examine the patterns of sediment provenance for different Cenozoic epochs. Detailed analysis of these components shows that provenance for both onshore and offshore deposits is best described by local bedrock sources and provides little to no evidence of regional changes in provenance. This suggests that a stable fluvial system similar to the modern drainage network has existed since the Eocene with no evidence for major provenance-altering river capture. Paleoflow measurements taken throughout the SE margin further corroborate the results of detrital zircon provenance. The combination of U-Pb age components and paleocurrent directions does not support a Cenozoic connection between the Paleo-Yangtze and Paleo-Red Rivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2538-2563
Number of pages26
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Tibetan Plateau
  • Yangtze
  • geochronology
  • provenance
  • spatial interpolation
  • zircon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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