The Nature, Formation Age and Genetic Environment of the Palaeokarst on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau

  • 1. Department of Geography, Zhongshan University, Guangzhou 510275, China;
    2. Department of Geography, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;
    3. State Environmental Protection Agency, Beijing 100035, China

Received date: 2001-06-04

  Revised date: 2001-09-26

  Online published: 2002-05-25

Supported by

The National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 49901002; No. 49371011


The karst landforms scattering on the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau can be genetically classified as the Tertiary underground karst, which gradually emerged to the ground surface following later period's denudation with the uplift of the plateau during the Quaternary Period. The relative deposits of the Tertiary palaeokarst processes, such as the residuum and speleothem, were discovered recently on the plantation surface of the plateau, where both eastern and southeastern fringe has geologically been disintegrated. The results of fission track dating using the speleothem calcite revealed that the formation age of the palaeokarst and hence the plantation surface is between 19.0 and 7.0 Ma B.P. The residuum has a fine size distribution. The principal chemical components of the clay portion of the residuum consist mainly of SiO2, Al2O3 and Fe2O3. The clay minerals composition of the clay portion belongs to illite-kaolinite-type for most of the residuum samples, and kaolinite-illite-type for a few samples. It can be judged from the silicic acid index and the clay minerals composition that the formation of the residuum of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau was in its initial phase. However, such a weak chemical weathering index only reflected the weathering degree in the bottom or lower parts of the weathering crust. The relative intensive chemical weathering processes of the surface layers of the weathering crust could be logically speculated. Also, surface textures of quartz grains in the residuum produced by chemical erosion revealed a long-term humid-tropical environment when the residuum and the palaeokarst formed.

Cite this article

GAO Quanzhou, CUI Zhijiu, TAO Zhen, LIU Gengnian, HONG Yun . The Nature, Formation Age and Genetic Environment of the Palaeokarst on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2002 , 57(3) : 267 -274 . DOI: 10.11821/xb200203002


[1] Shackleton R M, Chang Chengfa. Cenozoic uplift and deformation of the Tibetan Plateau. In: The Geological Evolution of the Tibetan Plateau. Beijing: Science Press, 1990. 372-383.
[Shackleton R M, 常承法. 青藏高原新生代的隆起和变形. 见: 青藏高原地质演化. 北京: 科学出版社, 1990. 372-383.]

[2] Shi Yafeng, Li Jijun, Li Bingyuan et al. Uplift of the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau and east Asia environmental change during Late Cenozoic. Acta Geographica Sinica, 1999, 54(1): 10-21.
[施雅风, 李吉均, 李炳元 等. 晚新生代青藏高原的隆升与东亚环境变化. 地理学报, 1999, 54(1): 10-21.]

[3] Sun Honglie, Zheng Du. Formation, Evolution and Development of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Guangzhou: Guangdong Science and Technology Press, 1998.
[孙鸿烈, 郑度. 青藏高原形成演化与发展. 广州: 广东科学技术出版社, 1998.]

[4] Li Jijun. Uplift of Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau and Global Change. Lanzhou: Lanzhou University Press, 1995.

[5] Wu Yongqiu, Cui Zhijiu, Liu Gengnian et al. Quaternary geomorphological evolution of the Kunlun Pass area and uplift of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Geomorphology, 2001, 36: 203-216.

[6] Cui Zhijiu, Gao Quanzhou, Liu Gengnian et al. Planation surfaces, palaeokarst and uplift of Xizang (Qinghai-Xizang) Plateau. Science in China (series D), 1996, 39(4): 391-400.

[7] Sweeting M M, Bao Haosheng, Zhang Dian. The problem of palaeokarst in Qinghai-Xizang. The Geographical Journal, 1991, 157(3): 316-325.

[8] Zhang Dian. A morphological analysis of Qinghai-Xizang limestone pinnacles: are they remnants of tropical karst towers and cones?. Geomorphology, 1996, 15(1): 79-91.

[9] Zhu Xuewen. The nature of Tibet Plateau karst and the query concerning "relic Fenglin karst". Carsologica Sinica, 1994, 13(3): 220-228.
[朱学稳. 西藏高原喀斯特的性质及 "残余峰林"质疑. 中国岩溶, 1994, 13(3): 220-228.]

[10] Wang F B. Karst in the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Carsologica Sinica, 1990, 9(3): 277-278.
[王富葆. 青藏高原的喀斯特. 中国岩溶, 1990, 9(3): 277-278.]

[11] Dewey J F, Shackleton R M, Chang Chengfa et al. The tectonic evolution of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. In: The Geological Evolution of the Tibetan Plateau. Beijing: Science Press, 1990. 384-451.
[Dewey J F, Shackleton R M, 常承法 等. 青藏高原的构造演化. 见: 青藏高原地质演化. 北京: 科学出版社, 1990. 384-451.]

[12] Li Jijun, Wen Shixuan, Zhang Qingsong et al. A discussion on the period, amplitude and type of the uplift of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Scientia Sinica, 1979, 22(6): 608-616.
[李吉均, 文世宣, 张青松 等. 青藏高原隆起的时代、幅度和形式的探讨. 中国科学, 1979, 22(6): 608-616.]

[13] Bull P A, Magee A W, Sweeting M M et al. Tibetan cave sediments: an SEM study of clastic deposits from Tibetan palaeokarst. Carsologica Sinica, 1990, 9(1): 76-87.

[14] Cui Zhijiu, Gao Quanzhou, Liu Gengnian et al. The initial evolution of planation surfaces and palaeokarst. Chinese Science Bulletin, 1997, 42(11): 934-938.

[15] Cui Zhijiu. Ancient karst and the uplift of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. In: On Problem of the Period, Amplitude and Type of the Uplift of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Beijing: Science Press, 1981. 40-51.
[崔之久. 古岩溶与青藏高原抬升, 见:青藏高原隆起的时代、幅度和形式问题. 北京: 科学出版社, 1981. 40-51.]

[16] Cui Zhijiu, Hong Yun, Chen Huailu. The new discovery of the palaeokarst research on Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. In: Formation and Evolution, Environmental Changes and Ecosystem in the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Beijing: Science Press, 1995. 120-125.
[崔之久, 洪云, 陈怀录. 青藏高原古岩溶研究的新进展. 见:青藏高原形成演化、环境变迁与生态系统研究. 北京: 科学出版社, 1995. 120-125.]

[17] Zhang Qingsong, Zhou Yaofei, Lu Xiangshun et al. Discussion on the modern uplift rate of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Chinese Science Bulletin, 1991, 36(7): 529-531.
[张青松, 周耀飞, 陆祥顺 等. 现代青藏高原上升速率问题. 科学通报, 1991, 36(7): 529-531.]

[18] Peng Buzhuo. Characteristics of clay mineral composition in the speleothem on Xizang Plateau and its papaeogeographic meaning. Mountain Research, 1992, 10(3): 148-154.
[彭补拙. 西藏高原洞穴堆积物的粘土矿物组合特征及其古地理意义. 山地研究, 1992, 10(3): 148-154.]

[19] Galy A, France-Lanord C, Derry L A. The strontium isotopic budget of Himalayan rivers in Nepal and Bangladesh. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 1999, 63(13/14): 1905-1925.

[20] Milliman J D, Meade R H. World-wide delivery of river sediment to the oceans. J. Geol., 1983, 91(1): 1-21.

[21] Gao Quanzhou, Cui Zhijiu, Liu Gengnian et al. The fission track ages of the cavernous recrystalline calcites in Tibet Plateau and their geomorphologic significance. Marine Geology & Quaternary Geology, 2000, 20(3): 61-65.
[高全洲, 崔之久, 刘耕年 等. 青藏高原洞穴次生方解石的裂变径迹年代及地貌学意义. 海洋地质与第四纪地质, 2000, 20(3): 61-65.]

[22] Gao Quanzhou, Cui Zhijiu, Liu Gengnian et al. Late Cenozoic karst landforms on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and their evolution. Journal of Palaeogeography, 2001, 3(1): 85-90.
[高全洲, 崔之久, 刘耕年 等. 晚新生代青藏高原岩溶地貌及其演化. 古地理学报, 2001, 3(1): 85-90.]

[23] Linge H, Lauritzen S E, Lundberg J et al. Stable isotope stratigraphy of Holocene speleothems: examples from a cave system in Rana, northern Norway. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoeoclogy, 2001, 167: 209-224.

[24] Lehmkuhl F, Klinge M, Rees-Jones J et al. Late Quaternary aeolian sedimentation in central and south-eastern Tibet. Quaternary International, 2000, 68-71: 117-132.

[25] Gao Quanzhou, Cui Zhijiu, Tao Zhen et al. The property, age and formation environment of the palaeokarst in Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2002, 12(2): 144-152.

[26] Guo Xudong, Sheng Xuebin. Geochemical characteristics of weathering crust on the Quaternary basalt in Hainan Island, China. Acta Geographica Sinica, 1980, 35(2): 161-173.
[郭旭东, 盛学斌. 我国海南岛第四纪玄武岩风化壳的地球化学特征. 地理学报, 1980, 35(2): 161-173.]

[27] Schulz M, White A F. Chemical weathering in a tropical watershed, Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico III: quartz dissolution rates. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 1999, 63(3/4): 337-350.