Ice cap erosion patterns from bedrock 10 Be and 26 Al, southeastern Tibetan Plateau

Ping Fu, Arjen P. Stroeven, Jonathan M. Harbor, Jakob Heyman, Clas Hättestrand, Marc W. Caffee

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Quantifying glacial erosion contributes to our understanding of landscape evolution and topographic relief production in high altitude and high latitude areas. Combining in situ 10 Be and 26 Al analysis of bedrock, boulder, and river sand samples, geomorphological mapping, and field investigations, we examine glacial erosion patterns of former ice caps in the Shaluli Shan of the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. The general landform pattern shows a zonal pattern of landscape modification produced by ice caps of up to 4000 km 2 during pre-LGM (Last Glacial Maximum) glaciations, while the dating results and landforms on the plateau surface imply that the LGM ice cap further modified the scoured terrain into different zones. Modeled glacial erosion depth of 0–0.38 m per 100 ka bedrock sample located close to the western margin of the LGM ice cap, indicates limited erosion prior to LGM and Late Glacial moraine deposition. A strong erosion zone exists proximal to the LGM ice cap marginal zone, indicated by modeled glacial erosion depth >2.23 m per 100 ka from bedrock samples. Modeled glacial erosion depths of 0–1.77 m per 100 ka from samples collected along the edge of a central upland, confirm the presence of a zone of intermediate erosion in-between the central upland and the strong erosion zone. Significant nuclide inheritance in river sand samples from basins on the scoured plateau surface also indicate restricted glacial erosion during the last glaciation. Our study, for the first time, shows clear evidence for preservation of glacial landforms formed during previous glaciations under non-erosive ice on the Tibetan Plateau. As patterns of glacial erosion intensity are largely driven by the basal thermal regime, our results confirm earlier inferences from geomorphology for a concentric basal thermal pattern for the Haizishan ice cap during the LGM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)918-932
Number of pages15
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2019


  • Be
  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • Tibetan Plateau
  • basal thermal regime
  • glacial erosion pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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