London Geochemistry & Isotope Centre


Provenance Studies

Provenance Studies

Atmospheric dust has a very important impact on global climate, but is not included in many climate models because of this establishing the source, flux, impact, controls and response of dust are pressing priorities. 

Current dust studies are mainly focused on the present but understanding its role in climate change requires looking back at long term archives. One of the most valuable climate archives is the Chinese Loess Plateau which covers an area of approximately 640,000 km2 and contains a 22 Myr record of dust deposition and climate proxies so is an ideal area to study long term dust deposition. The deposition and diagenesis of the sediments within the Chinese Loess Plateau is closely linked to climate, especially wind speed, source production, changes in sediment capture and the hydrological cycle. The source of Chinese loess is not well understood and hence at present it is impossible to interpret variations in dust accumulation rates in terms of climate. 

This project (a collaboration with Thomas Stevens of Royal Holloway and Randy Parrish of the British Geological Survey) aims to use single grained analysis to: 

* Determine dust sources for loess in China over the past 22 Myr.

* Calculate the relative flux derived from specific sources.

* Constrain the extent and type of controls on past dust production in these sources.

* Constrain the type of atmospheric systems responsible for past dust transport