The Loess Plateau of China: Aeolian Sedimentation and Fluvial Erosion, Both with Superlative Rates
Loess, draped over various types of bedrock landforms, is found in about 10% of the land surface on Earth. Among various loess landscapes in the world, the Loess Plateau of China, located in the middle reaches of the Yellow River, is the largest terrain of continuous and thickest loess sedimentation, offering probably the best terrestrial record for research on Quaternary palaeoclimatic changes. Prior to loess deposition, karst landforms formed in Cambrian and Ordovician carbonates, sandstone hills and basins were common in the area of the present-day Loess Plateau. The major components of contemporary relief are tablelands (Yuan), long ridges (Liang) and round hills (Mao), all named after local folks’ language. Secondary erosion forms, such as gullies and dolines, have been impressively developed in the Loess Plateau, and their formation may have accompanied loess sedimentation for a long time, mostly in the Quaternary but occasionally much earlier. Erosion and collapse processes have been tremendously enhanced during historical times due to strong human impact.
KeywordsChina gully erosion human activity loess tableland
We would like to thank the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant no.: kzcx2-yw-119) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no.: 40671020) for financial support.
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