Optically stimulated luminescence dating of aeolian sand in the otindag dune field and holocene climate change

Ya Li Zhou, Hua Yu Lu, Joseph Mason, Xiao Dong Miao, James Swinehart, Ronald Goble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dune system in Otindag sand field of northern China is sensitive to climate change, where effective moisture and related vegetation cover play a controlling role for dune activity and stability. Therefore, aeolian deposits may be an archive of past environmental changes, possibly at the millennial scale, but previous studies on this topic have rarely been reported. In this study, thirty-five optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages of ten representative sand-paleosol profiles in Otindag sand field are obtained, and these ages provide a relatively complete and well-dated chronology for wet and dry variations in Holocene. The results indicate that widespread dune mobilization occurred from 9.9 to 8.2 ka, suggesting a dry early Holocene climate. The dunes were mainly stabilized between 8.0 and 2.7 ka, implying a relatively wet climate, although there were short-term penetrations of dune activity during this wet period. After ∼2.3 ka, the region became dry again, as inferred from widespread dune activity. The "8.2 ka" cold event and the Little Ice Age climatic deterioration are detected on the basis of the dune records and OSL ages. During the Medieval Warm Period and the Sui-Tang Warm Period (570-770 AD), climate in Otindag sand field was relatively humid and the vegetation was denser, and the sand dunes were stabilized again. These aeolian records may indicate climate changes at millennial time scale during Holocene, and these climatic changes may be the teleconnection to the climate changes elsewhere in the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-847
Number of pages11
JournalScience in China, Series D: Earth Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Drought
  • Dune
  • Holocene
  • OSL dating
  • Otindag sand field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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