Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 310–323 | Cite as

Neogene integrative stratigraphy and timescale of China

  • Tao DengEmail author
  • Sukuan Hou
  • Shiqi Wang


The widely exposed Chinese Neogene terrestrial deposits provide the best circumstance for the establishment of an accurate chronostratigraphic system of Eurasia, and the rapidly evolved mammalian fossils contribute efficiently to the division and correlation of Asian Neogene strata. A uniform Neogene biostratigraphic framework for China has already been established, with seven mammalian ages named. With a developed stratigraphic basis for the geochronologic “ages”, seven chronostratigraphic “stage” have been established for the Chinese Neogene terrestrial strata, namely the Miocene Xiejian, Shanwangian, Tunggurian, Bahean, and Baodean stages, and the Pliocene Gaozhuangian and Mazegouan stages. Based on a series of research achievements, refined biostratigraphic, paleomagnetic and isotopic methods were combined and applied to continuous sections, and a Chinese Neogene chronostratigraphic sequence with accurate geological ages was established and improved in recent years. The lower boundaries of most of the stages could be correlated with those of the marine stages in the International Chronostratigraphic Chart, except the Tunggurian Stage, which is correlated with the European land mammal age. The biostratigraphic markers of the Chinese Neogene stages are usually first appearance of a single taxon, some representing regional species replacement, others indicating intercontinental migration of certain taxa. Candidate stratotype sections have been proposed for all the Chinese Neogene stages according to the principle and rule of modern stratigraphy, and other Chinese Neogene strata in different regions are comprehensively correlated.


Neogene Stage/age Mammal Biostratigraphy Chronostratigraphy Magnetostratigraphy China 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



We appreciated Profs. Qiu Zhanxiang, Qiu Zhuding, Lawrence Flynn, Wang Xiaoming, and Meng Jin for their guidance and assistance in the fieldwork and during the research. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41430102), the Strategic Priority Cultivating Research Program, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDPB05), the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. QYZDY-SSWDQC022), the Science and Technology Basic Work Research Program (Grant No. 2015FY310100-14), and the Chinese Commission on Stratigraphy (Grant No. DD20160120-04).


  1. Castradori D, Rio D, Hilgen F J, Lourens L J. 1998. The Global Standard Stratotype-section and Point (GSSP) of the Piacenzian Stage (Middle Pliocene). Episodes, 21: 88–93Google Scholar
  2. Chiu C S, Li C K, Chiu C T. 1979. The Chinese Neogene: a preliminary review of the mammalian localities and faunas. Ann Geol Pays Hellen, Hors Serie, 1: 263–272Google Scholar
  3. Dai S, Fang X, Dupont-Nivet G, Song C, Gao J, Krijgsman W, Langereis C, Zhang W. 2006. Magnetostratigraphy of Cenozoic sediments from the Xining Basin: Tectonic implications for the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. J Geophys Res, 111: B11102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Deng T. 2006. Chinese Neogene mammal biochronology. Vert PalAsiat, 44: 143–163Google Scholar
  5. Deng T, Hou S K. 2011. The Mazegouan Stage of the continental Pliocene in China (in Chinese). J Stratigr, 35: 237–249Google Scholar
  6. Deng T, Hou S K. 2014. The Neogene terrestrial chronostratigraphic sequence of China. In: Rocha R, Pais J, Finney S, Kullberg J C, eds. STRATI 2013: First International Congress on Stratigraphy at the Cutting Edge of Stratigraphy. Cham: Springer. 1009–1012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Deng T, Hou S K, Shi Q Q. 2015. Selection of the lower boundary stratotype of the terrestrial Upper Miocene Bahean Stage in China. Acta Geosci Sin, 6: 523–532Google Scholar
  8. Deng T, Hou S K, Wang H J. 2007. The Tunggurian Stage of the continental Miocene in China. Acta Geol Sin-Engl Ed, 81: 709–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Deng T, Hou S K, Wang T M, Mu Y Q. 2010. The Gaozhuanian Stage of the continental Pliocene in China (in Chinese). J Stratigr, 34: 225–240Google Scholar
  10. Deng T, Qiu Z X, Wang B Y, Wang X M, Hou S K. 2013. Late Cenozoic biostratigraphy of the Linxia Basin, northwestern China. In: Wang X M, Flynn L J, Fortelius M, eds. Fossil Mammals of Asia: Neogene Biostratigraphy and Chronology. New York: Columbia University Press. 243–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Falconer H. 1868. On the fossil rhinoceros of central Tibet and its relation to the Recent upheaval of the Himalayahs. In: Murchison C, ed. Paleontological Memoirs and Notes of the Late Hugh Falconer, Vol. I. London: R Hardwicke. 173–185Google Scholar
  12. Fang X, Wang J, Zhang W, Zan J, Song C, Yan M, Appel E, Zhang T, Wu F, Yang Y, Lu Y. 2016. Tectonosedimentary evolution model of an intracontinental flexural (foreland) basin for paleoclimatic research. Glob Planet Change, 145: 78–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Flynn L J, Qiu Z X, Opdyke N D, Tedford R H. 1995. Ages of key fossil assemblages in the late Neogene terrestrial record of northern China. Soc Econ Paleont Miner Spec Publ, 54: 365–373Google Scholar
  14. Flynn L J, Wu W, Downs III W R. 1997. Dating vertebrate microfaunas in the late Neogene record of Northern China. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol, 133: 227–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gradstein F M, Ogg J, Schmitz M D, Ogg G. 2012. The Geologic Time Scale 2012. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 1–1176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. He H, Deng C, Pan Y, Deng T, Luo Z, Sun J, Zhu R. 2011. New 40Ar/39Ar dating results from the Shanwang Basin, eastern China: Constraints on the age of the Shanwang Formation and associated biota. Phys Earth Planet Inter, 187: 66–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hedberg H D. 1976. International Stratigraphic Guide: A Guide to Stratigraphic Classification, Terminology, and Procedure. New York: Wiley. 1–200Google Scholar
  18. Hilgen F, Aziz H A, Bice D, Iaccarino S, Krijgsman W, Kuiper K, Montanari A, Raffi I, Turco E, Zachariasse W-J. 2005. The Global boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Tortonian Stage (Upper Miocene) at Monte dei Corvi. Episodes, 28: 6–17Google Scholar
  19. Hilgen F J, Iaccarino S, Krijgsman W, Villa G, Langereis C G, Zachariasse W J. 2000. The Global boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Messinian Stage (uppermost Miocene). Episodes, 23: 172–178Google Scholar
  20. Hilgen F J, Lourens L J, Van Dam J A. 2012. The Neogene Period. In: Gradstein F M, Ogg J G, Schmitz M K, Ogg G M, eds. The Geologic Time Scale 2012. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 923–978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kaakinen A. 2005. A Long Terrestrial Sequence in Lantian: A Window into the Late Neogene Palaeoenvironments of Northern China. Helsinki: Yliopistopaino. 1–49Google Scholar
  22. Koken E. 1885. Über fossile Säugethiere aus China. Pal Abh, 3: 31–113Google Scholar
  23. Li C K, Qiu Z D. 1980. Early Miocene mammalian fossils of Xining Basin, Qinghai (in Chinese). Vert PalAsiat, 18: 198–214Google Scholar
  24. Li C K, Wu W Y, Qiu Z D. 1984. Chinese Neogene: Subdivision and correlation (in Chinese). Vert PalAsiat, 22: 163–178Google Scholar
  25. Liu T S, Ding M L, Gao F Q. 1960. Section of Cenozoic deposits of Xi'an- Lantian, Shaanxi (in Chinese). Sci Geol Sin, 4: 199–208Google Scholar
  26. Lourens L, Hilgen F, Shackleton N J, Laskar J, Wilson D. 2004. The Neogene Period. In: Gradstein F M, Ogg J G, Sminth A G, eds. A Geologic Time Scale 2004. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 409–440Google Scholar
  27. Meng J, Ye J, Wu W Y, Ni X J, Bi S D. 2013. A single-point base definition of the Xiejian Age as an exemplar for refining Chinese land mammal ages. In: Wang X M, Flynn L J, Fortelius M, eds. Fossil Mammals of Asia: Neogene Biostratigraphy and Chronology. New York: Columbia University Press. 124–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Meng J, Ye J, Wu W Y, Yue L P, Ni X J. 2006. A recommended boundary stratotype section for Xiejian Stage from northern Junggar Basin: Implications to related bio-chronostratygraphy and environmental changes (in Chinese). Vert PalAsiat, 44: 205–236Google Scholar
  29. Ogg J G, Ogg G, Cradstein F M. 2016. A Concise Geologic Time Scale 2016. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 1–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pei W Z, Zhou M Z, Zheng J J. 1963. Cenozoic Erathem of China (in Chinese). In: All-China Stratigraphic Commission, ed. Selected Scientific Reports at All-China Stratigraphic Congress. Beijing: Science Press. 1–31Google Scholar
  31. Qiu Z D, Li Q. 2016. The Neogene Rodentia of Central Nei Mongol (in Chinese). Paleontol Sin New Ser C, 30: 1–684Google Scholar
  32. Qiu Z X. 1989. The Chinese Neogene mammalian biochronology: Its correlation with the European Neogene mammalian zonation. NATO ASI Ser A, 180: 527–556Google Scholar
  33. Qiu Z X, Huang W L, Guo Z H. 1987. The Chinese hipparionine fossils (in Chinese). Paleontol Sin New Ser C, 25: 1–250Google Scholar
  34. Qiu Z X, Qiu Z D. 1990. The sequence and division of mammalian local faunas in the Neogene of China (in Chinese). J Stratigr, 14: 241–260Google Scholar
  35. Qiu Z, Qiu Z. 1995. Chronological sequence and subdivision of Chinese Neogene mammalian faunas. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol, 116: 41–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Qiu Z X, Qiu Z D, Deng T, Li C K, Zhang Z Q, Wang B Y, Wang X M. 2013. Neogene land mammal stages/ages of China: Toward the goal to establish an Asian land mammal stage/age scheme. In: Wang X M, Flynn L J, Fortelius M, eds. Fossil Mammals of Asia: Neogene Biostratigraphy and Chronology. New York: Columbia University Press. 29–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Qiu Z X, Wu W Y, Qiu Z D. 1999. Miocene mammal faunal sequence of China: Palaeozoogeography and Eurasian relationships. In: Rössner G E, Heissig K, eds. The Miocene Land Mammals of Europe. München: Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil. 443–455Google Scholar
  38. Ritts B D, Yue Y, Graham S A, Sobel E R, Abbink O A, Stockli D. 2008. From sea level to high elevation in 15 million years: Uplift history of the northern Tibetan Plateau margin in the Altun Shan. Am J Sci, 308: 657–678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Salvador A, ed. 1994. International Stratigraphic Guide: A Guide to Stratigraphic Classification, Terminology, and Procedure. 2nd ed. Trondheim and Boulder: IUGS and GSA. 1–214Google Scholar
  40. Spock L E. 1929. Pliocene beds of the Iren Gobi. Am Mus Novit, 394: 1–8Google Scholar
  41. Steininger F F. 1999. Chronostratigraphy, geochronology and biochronology of the Miocene “European Land Mammal Mega-Zones” (ELMMZ) and the Miocene “Mammal-Zones (MN-Zones)”. In: Rössner G E, Heissig K, eds. The Miocene Land Mammals of Europe. München: Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil. 9–24Google Scholar
  42. Steininger F F, Aubry M P, Berggren W A, Biolzi M, Borsetti A M, Cartlidge J E, Cati F, Corfield R, Gelati R, Iaccarino S, Napoleone C, Ottner F, Rögl F, Roetzel R, Spezzaferri S, Tateo F, Villa G, Zevenboom D. 1997. The Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the base of the Neogene. Episodes, 20: 23–28Google Scholar
  43. Steininger F F, Berggren W A, Kent D V, Bernor R L, Sen S, Agusti J. 1996. Circum-Mediterranean Neogene (Miocene and Pliocene) marinecontinental chronologic correlation of European mammal units. In: Bernor R L, Fahlbusch V, Mittmamm H W, eds. The Evolution of Western Eurasian Neogene Mammal Faunas. New York: Columbia University Press. 7–46Google Scholar
  44. Tedford R H. 1995. Neogene mammalian biostratigraphy in China: Past, present and future. Vert PalAsiat, 33: 272–289Google Scholar
  45. Tedford R H, Qiu Z X, Flynn L J, eds. 2013. Late Cenozoic Yushe Basin, Shanxi Province, China: Geology and Fossil Mammals. Dordrecht: Springer. 1–109Google Scholar
  46. Teilhard de Chardin P, Leroy P. 1942. Chinese fossil mammals: a complete bibliography analysed, tabulated, annotated and indexed. Inst Geo-Bio Pekin, 8: 1–142Google Scholar
  47. Teilhard de Chardin P, Young C C. 1930. Preliminary observations on the pre-Loessic and post-Pontian formations in western Shansi and northern Shensi. Mem Geol Surv China Ser A, 8: 1–54Google Scholar
  48. Teilhard de Chardin P, Young C C. 1933. The Late Cenozoic formations of S. E. Shansi. Bull Geol Soc China, 12: 207–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tong Y S, Zheng S H, Qiu Z D. 1995. Cenozoic mammal ages of China (in Chinese). Vert PalAsiat, 33: 290–314Google Scholar
  50. Van Couvering J A, Castradori D, Cita M B, Hilgen F J, Rio D. 2000. The base of the Zanclean Stage and of the Pliocene Series. Episodes, 23: 179–187Google Scholar
  51. Wang P, Zhao Q, Jian Z, Cheng X, Huang W, Tian J, Wang J, Li Q, Li B, Su X. 2003. Thirty million year deep sea records in the South China Sea. Chin Sci Bull, 48: 2524–2535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wang S Q, Deng T. 2011. The first Choerolophodon (Proboscidea, Gomphotheriidae) skull from China. Sci China Earth Sci, 54: 1326–1337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wang X M, Flynn L J, Fortelius M, eds. 2013. Fossil Mammals of Asia: Neogene Biostratigraphy and Chronology. New York: Columbia University Press. 1–732Google Scholar
  54. Wang X M, Qiu Z D, Li Q, Tomida Y, Kimura Y, Tseng Z J, Wang H J. 2009. A new Early to Late Miocene fossiliferous region in central Nei Mongol: Lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy in Aoerban strata. Vert PalAsiat, 47: 111–134Google Scholar
  55. Wang X M, Qiu Z D, Opdyke N D. 2003. Litho-, Bio-, and magnetostratigraphy and paleoenvironment of Tunggur Formation (Middle Miocene) in central Inner Mongolia, China. Am Mus Novit, 3411: 1–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wang Y, Deng T. 2005. A 25 m.y. isotopic record of paleodiet and environmental change from fossil mammals and paleosols from the NE margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 236: 322–338Google Scholar
  57. Wang Z J, Huang Z G, Yao J X, Ma X L. 2014. Characteristic and main progress of the Chinese Stratigraphic Chart and direction (in Chinese). Acta Geosci Sin, 35: 271–276Google Scholar
  58. Woodburne M O, Tedford R H, Lindsay E H. 2013. North China Neogene biochronology. In: Wang X M, Flynn L J, Fortelius M, eds. Fossil Mammals of Asia: Neogene Biostratigraphy and Chronology. New York: Columbia University Press. 91–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wu L C, Yue L P, Wang J Q, Heller F, Deng T. 2006. Magnetostratigraphy of stratotype section of the Neogene Xiejian Stage (in Chinese). J Stratigr, 30: 50–53Google Scholar
  60. Xiao G, Guo Z, Dupont-Nivet G, Lu H, Wu N, Ge J, Hao Q, Peng S, Li F, Abels H A, Zhang K. 2012. Evidence for northeastern Tibetan Plateau uplift between 25 and 20 Ma in the sedimentary archive of the Xining Basin, Northwestern China. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 317-318: 185–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Young C C. 1936a. On the Cenozoic geology of Itu, Changlo and Linchü districts (Shantung). Bull Geol Soc China, 15: 171–187Google Scholar
  62. Young C C. 1936b. Discussions on the history of the Sanmen Series. Geol Rev, 1: 323–330Google Scholar
  63. Yue L P, Deng T, Zhang Y X, Wang J Q, Zhang R, Yang L R, Heller F. 2004. Magnetostratigraphy of stratotype section of the Baode Stage (in Chinese). J Stratigr, 28: 48–51Google Scholar
  64. Zheng J J, He X X, Liu S W, Li Z J, Huang X S, Chen G F, Qiu Z D. 1999. Stratigraphical Lexicon of China-Tertiary System (in Chinese). Beijing: Geological Publishing House. 1–163Google Scholar
  65. Zhang R, Yue L P, Wang J Q. 2007. Magnetostratigraphic dating of mammalian fossils in Junggar Basin, northwest China. Chin Sci Bull, 52: 1526–1531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zhu Y, Zhou L, Mo D, Kaakinen A, Zhang Z, Fortelius M. 2008. A new magnetostratigraphic framework for late Neogene Hipparion Red Clay in the eastern Loess Plateau of China. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol, 268: 47–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and PaleoanthropologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.CAS Center for Excellence in Life and PaleoenvironmentBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of Earth SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

Personalised recommendations