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Min Zhai, Xinggong Kong, Yuanhai Zhang, Philip Rowsell, Zhijun Zhao, Baojian Huang, Jing Zhang. Late Miocene elevated horizontal karst caves and landform evolution as a response to tectonic uplift along with regional integration of fluvial drainage in Southwestern China. Journal of Earth Science. doi: 10.1007/s12583-022-1656-7
Citation: Min Zhai, Xinggong Kong, Yuanhai Zhang, Philip Rowsell, Zhijun Zhao, Baojian Huang, Jing Zhang. Late Miocene elevated horizontal karst caves and landform evolution as a response to tectonic uplift along with regional integration of fluvial drainage in Southwestern China. Journal of Earth Science. doi: 10.1007/s12583-022-1656-7

Late Miocene elevated horizontal karst caves and landform evolution as a response to tectonic uplift along with regional integration of fluvial drainage in Southwestern China

doi: 10.1007/s12583-022-1656-7
  • Received Date: 16 Dec 2021
  • Rev Recd Date: 16 Mar 2022
  • Accepted Date: 16 Mar 2022
  • Available Online: 28 Apr 2022
  • In Southwestern China, the development of karst landforms and the planation surfaces is closely related to local tectonics, fluvial incision and base level change, as well as climate change. While researches on when these karst landforms and planation surfaces formed and how they evolved along drainage development are scarce. Fortunately, horizontal caves with numerous fluvial deposits in high karst mountains can be used as time markers in landform evolution. Here we select large horizontal caves to perform studies of geomorphology, sedimentology and geochronology. Field work shows that more than 25 km long horizontal cave passages are perched 1500 m higher than the local base level, but filled with several phases of fluvial sediments and breakdown slabs. The first phase of fluvial gravels and related cave drainage were dated back to 6.4 Ma using cosmogenic nuclide burial dating, and the stalagmite covering the cave collapse was dated by the U-Pb method , older than 1.56 Ma. These results show that the continuous horizontal cave drainage system and the planation surface were developed prior to the Late Miocene. The lowering process of the base level as a result of the sharp fluvial incision and water level lowering, along with the regional uplift, led to the abandonment of the horizontal cave and the elevated planation surface at the Late Miocene . After that, the phase of cave collapse , thick fluvial sand and clay sediments in the caves from the recharge of the cave deposited at around 1.6 Ma and during the Middle Pleistocene, respectively. Subsequently, speleothems widely deposited on the collapse and clay sediment during the period from 600 to 90 ka ,whereas the deposition of cave fluvial sediments terminated suddenly. The tectonic could control the denudation of surface caprock and the development of karst conduits prior to the Late Miocene, whereas the river incision acted as the main driver for the base level lowering and the destruction of the horizontal cave drainage at high altitude. In addition, the rapid incision and the retreat of Silurian gorges finally caused the formation of karst mesa in the Middle Pleistocene.

     

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      沈阳化工大学材料科学与工程学院 沈阳 110142

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