Cosmogenic nuclide constraints on glacial chronology in the source area of the Urumqi River, Tian Shan, China



Cosmogenic nuclide surface exposure dating of boulders and erratics provides new constraints for a glacial chronology in the source area of the Urumqi River, Tian Shan, China. 10Be exposure ages of 15.0 ± 1.3–17.1 ± 1.5 ka from the Upper Wangfeng (UWF) moraines agree well with their previous relative age assignments to marine isotope stage (MIS) 2, but are younger than published AMS 14C and electron spin resonance (ESR) ages (from 22.8 ± 0.6 to 37.4 ka). This difference may result from variations in techniques, or could reflect the impact of surface erosion and sediment/snow cover on surface exposure dating. 10Be ages from the Lower Wangfeng (LWF) moraines (18.7 ± 1.8 and 16.2 ± 1.5 ka) are indistinguishable from the UWF exposure ages, but are significantly younger than previously reported thermoluminescence (TL) and ESR ages (37.7 ± 2.6–184.7 ± 18 ka). Either these two groups were formed during the same period (MIS 2) and there are problems with TL and ESR ages, or the moraines were of very different ages and the similar exposure ages result from different degrees of degradation. Erratics on rock steps and a drumlin along >8 km of the main glacial valley above the UWF have internally consistent and slightly decreasing 10Be exposure ages indicating glacier retreat >2.5 m a−1 after MIS 2 and before middle or late Holocene glacier re-advances. This retreat rate is similar to rates observed from modern glaciers. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.