Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2009, Vol. 64 ›› Issue (3): 339-348.doi: 10.11821/xb200903009

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Evidence of Palaeolake Existence in Ulan Buh Desert and Its Environmental Evolution

CHUN Xi1,2, CHEN Fahu3, FAN Yuxin3, XIA Dunsheng4, ZHAO Hui4   

  1. 1. College of Geographic Science,Inner Mongolia Normal University,Hohhot 010022,China;
    2. Inner Mongolia Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing and Geography Information System,Hohhot 010022,China;
    3. National Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems,Lanzhou University,Lanzhou 730000,China;
    4. Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification,Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS,Lanzhou 730000,China
  • Received:2008-10-10 Revised:2008-12-12 Online:2009-03-25 Published:2009-03-25
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China,No.40761028;International Cooperative Project of Ministry of Science and Technology of China,No.2002CB714004.


There are numerous dry salt lakes in the hinterland of the Ulan Buh Desert and around them are lakeshore terraces at different heights. The Herom Xil spit discovered in extensive field investigation is the most typical among them. The spit falls from northwest to southeast with elevations ranging between 1052-1035 m a.s.l. and has a length of 11 km. This is an important evidence for the existence and development of the palaeolake. The spit was formed during the period 8.6-7 ka B.P. in early Holocene, based on the OSL dating on beach sediment. The period was coincident with the moist environment observed in many deserts of western China. The strong palaeowind, rich lake sediment sources and currents of Jarantai and Hetao palaeolakes led to the formation of the spit. According to the elevation of the spit, we estimated that in the Ulan Buh Desert hinterland developed a relatively large palaeolake which extended to Jarantai basin westward and to Hetao basin eastward, and thus formed Jarantai megalake in Holocene. With the intensification of dry climate, the palaeolake level declined and the area shrank. Furthermore, numerous lakes remained and evolved into salt lakes in the hinterland of the Ulan Buh Desert. The sands around the palaeolake might have resulted in the formation of the present Ulan Buh Desert.

Key words: Ulan Buh Desert, Herom Xil spit, environmental change