Uplift, climate and biotic changes at the Eocene-Oligocene transition in south-eastern Tibet

Tao Su*, Robert A. Spicer, Shi Hu Li, He Xu, Jian Huang, Sarah Sherlock, Yong Jiang Huang, Shu Feng Li, Li Wang, Lin Bo Jia, Wei Yu Dong Deng, Jia Liu, Cheng Long Deng, Shi Tao Zhang, Paul J. Valdes, Zhe Kun Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The uplift history of south-eastern Tibet is crucial to understanding processes driving the tectonic evolution of the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding areas. Underpinning existing palaeoaltimetric studies has been regional mapping based in large part on biostratigraphy that assumes a Neogene modernization of the highly diverse, but threatened, Asian biota. Here, with new radiometric dating and newly collected plant-fossil archives, we quantify the surface height of part of the south-eastern margin of Tibet in the latest Eocene (∼34 Ma) to be ∼3 km and rising, possibly attaining its present elevation (3.9 km) in the early Oligocene. We also find that the Eocene-Oligocene transition in south-eastern Tibet witnessed leaf-size diminution and a floral composition change from sub-tropical/warm temperate to cool temperate, likely reflective of both uplift and secular climate change, and that, by the latest Eocene, floral modernization on Tibet had already taken place, implying modernization was deeply rooted in the Palaeogene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-504
Number of pages10
JournalNational Science Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2018


  • biodiversity
  • Eocene
  • Oligocene
  • plant fossil
  • Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
  • uplift


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