Asian aridification linked to the first step of the Eocene-Oligocene climate Transition (EOT) in obliquity-dominated terrestrial records (Xining Basin, China)
Abstract. Asian terrestrial records of the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT) are rare and, when available, often poorly constrained in time, even though they are crucial in understanding the atmospheric impact of this major step in Cenozoic climate deterioration. Here, we present a detailed cyclostratigraphic study of the continuous continental EOT succession deposited between ~35 to 33 Ma in the Xining Basin at the northeastern edge of Tibetan Plateau. Lithology supplemented with high-resolution magnetic susceptibility (MS), median grain size (MGS) and color reflectance (a*) records reveal a prominent ~3.4 m thick basic cyclicity of alternating playa gypsum and dry mudflat red mudstones of latest Eocene age. The magnetostratigraphic age model indicates that this cyclicity was most likely forced by the 41-kyr obliquity cycle driving oscillations of drier and wetter conditions in Asian interior climate from at least 1 million year before the EOT. In addition, our results suggest a duration of ~0.9 Myr for magnetochron C13r that is in accordance with radiometric dates from continental successions in Wyoming, USA, albeit somewhat shorter than in current time scales. Detailed comparison of the EOT interval in the Tashan section with marine records suggest that the most pronounced lithofacies change in the Xining Basin corresponds to the first of two widely recognized steps in oxygen isotopes across the EOT. This first step precedes the major and second step (i.e. the base of Oi-1) and has recently been reported to be mainly related to atmospheric cooling rather than ice volume growth. Coincidence with lithofacies changes in our Chinese record would suggest that the atmospheric impact of the first step was of global significance, while the major ice volume increase of the second step did not significantly affect Asian interior climate.