Basin morphology and seismic stratigraphy of Lake Donggi Cona, north-eastern Tibetan Plateau, China

E. Dietze*, B. Wünnemann, B. Diekmann, B. Aichner, K. Hartmann, U. Herzschuh, J. IJmker, H. Jin, C. Kopsch, F. Lehmkuhl, S. Li, S. Mischke, F. Niessen, S. Opitz, G. Stauch, S. Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Basin morphology and depositional stratigraphy of Lake Donggi Cona on the north-eastern Tibetan Plateau has been studied with echo depth sounding and shallow seismic sub-bottom profiling. The basin is a pull-apart structure situated at the highly active Kunlun fault. It is characterised by a 92 m deep graben structure in the western part of the lake basin, and a shallow eastern lake part, the latter filled up with fluvial sediments from a large alluvial plain. Three prominent morphological levels were identified at 24 m, 39 m and 57 m below present lake level. They were partly created by basin subsidence, while the deposition of prograding delta sediments primarily formed the morphological steps. The inherited tectonic structures control on-going neotectonic activity, which seems to have only minor influence on present basin morphology. The basin is filled by sediments of at least 30 m thickness in the depocentre. Three major depositional units can be distinguished. In comparison with lithological changes in a sediment core, they give evidence of pronounced lake-level fluctuations and dramatic changes in lake volume. A numerical age datum of ∼19 cal ka BP at the base of the sediment core allows a tentative reconstruction of Late Glacial to Holocene lake development. A very low base level preceded a time of delta formation during higher lake level, i.e. ∼26 m lower than present during Last Glacial Maximum, creating a lake of only 18% of its present size. At the transition to Holocene the lake-level rose very quickly changing to a deep lake environment. Thus, transgression may have promoted maximum lake stands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-142
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary International
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Field work was supported by Ji Yanyun, Chen Jianhui, Yang Qili, Yin Shupeng, and Liu Xiaolong. We thank two anonymous reviewers for very valuable comments. The investigations were financially supported by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG) and Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam.


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