Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 70 ›› Issue (11): 1774-1787.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201511007

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Exploration and analysis of the reasons for pre-historical catastrophes in the Lajia Ruins, Qinghai Province

Qiang ZHOU1(), Yuzhu ZHANG2   

  1. 1. School of Life and Geographic Science, Qinghai Normal University, Xining 810008, China
    2. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Northwest University, Xi'an 710127, China
  • Received:2015-04-30 Revised:2015-08-27 Online:2015-11-20 Published:2015-11-20
  • Supported by:
    National Nature Science Foundation of China, No.41261010, No.41271123


Archaeological excavations have exposed a shocking picture of the prehistorical calamities in the Lajia Ruins in the Guanting Basin along the Yellow River. The destruction reasons has been a hot and focus issue in recent years. Geological records of the major disasters in relation to the devastation of this prehistorical settlement were investigated by detailed field observations, sedimentological analysis and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and 14C dating. More importantly, we made a comparative study of the conglomerated red clay, the gully deposit at the foot of the Great Red Hills where the Ganggou gullies emerge onto the Guanting Basin, and the palaeoflood deposit of the Yellow River in the barrier lake in the Jishixia. The results show that at ca. 3950 a BP, immediately followed by a major earthquake, the settlement was overtaken by immense mudflows coming along the tributary gullies from the hillsides behind. The enormous mudflows suddenly buried and destroyed the dwellings, which led to the prehistorical calamities in the Lajia Ruins. These results are of important implications in understanding the prehistorical environmental change in the environmentally sensitive zones over the world. It has very important reference value for the further studying of man-land relationship.

Key words: Guanting Basin, Lajia Ruins, prehistorical catastrophes, earthquake, mudflow