Review Articles

Formation and evolution of sand deserts in Xinjiang, Northwest China:Ⅰ. Provenances of desert sands

  • 1. Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, CAS, Beijing 100029, China;
    3. Key Laboratory of Xinjiang Oasis Ecology, Ministry of Education, Urumqi 830046, China
Zhu Bingqi(1976-), PhD, specialized in land surface processes in arid zones and the Quaternary environmental change.

Received date: 2013-05-27

  Revised date: 2013-07-05

  Online published: 2014-02-15

Supported by

National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program), No.2009CB421305; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.91025023; No.41371060; No.41271049


Sandy desert landscape is a geological product of arid climate and abundant sand materials supply in natural conditions, therefore the formation of sandy desert is an ideal studying object for understanding the interaction between various stratigraphic/epigenetic spheres of the earth system. However, until now, the knowledge about the provenance and formation of these deserts in Xinjiang, Central Asia is diverse and inconsistent, a systematic review is necessary. Ancient aeolian sand sediments in the internal areas of these deserts and their twin dust deposits in the Cenozoic strata surrounding the Xinjiang deserts are direct and indirect clues reflecting the provenance of sand materials and the formation and evolution of deserts. Based on the geochemical, mineralogical and isotopic evidences of desert sands and relevant deposits in the peripheral regions, this paper reviews the research progress on the development of the sandy deserts in Xinjiang, Northwest China. Many proofs proposed that desert sands in Xinjiang were mainly sourced from the ancient pluvial, alluvial and fluvial sediments and were eventually achieved because of the local sand supply. It pointed out that the settings of tectonic structure in Xinjiang had made sediments both in the Tarim Basin and the Junggar Basin being influenced greatly by regional hydrological system and aeolian processes originated from the planetary wind system of westerly, the East Asian winter monsoon and the topographical mountain-valley winds. However, the directions of transportation paths are different between the hydrological dynamics and the aeolian dynamics, which are decided by the slantwise structures of the basins tectonics and the regional atmospheric circulation routes, respectively, and have determined anisotropies of the transport pathway of these sediments delivered by different agents. This results in a geological cycle of detrital sediment transportation in the two large basins and thus largely increases the degree of sediment mixing, alternation and recycle between younger and older sediment sources, as well as the complexity and diversity of sand provenances.

Cite this article

ZHU Bingqi, YU Jingjie, QIN Xiaoguang, Patrick RIOUAL, LIU Ziting, XIONG Heigang . Formation and evolution of sand deserts in Xinjiang, Northwest China:Ⅰ. Provenances of desert sands[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2014 , 24(1) : 177 -190 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-014-1080-8


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