Geochemical records in the South China Sea: Implications for East Asian summer monsoon evolution over the last 20 Ma

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We reconstruct past changes in the East Asian summer monsoon over the last 20 Ma using samples from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 1146 of Leg 184 in the northern South China Sea based on the major (Al, Ca, Na, K, Ti, etc.) and trace element (Rb, Sr, and Ba) geochemistry of terrigenous sediments. This study and combined review suggests that the long-term evolution of the East Asian summer monsoon is similar to that of the Indian summer monsoon, but distinct from the East Asian winter monsoon. Generally, the Asian summer monsoon intensity has decreased gradually from its maximum in the Early Miocene. In contrast, the Asian winter monsoon shows a phased enhancement since 20 Ma bp. Moreover, our study shows that the long-term intensities of the Asian summer and winter monsoons may have different forcing factors. Specifically, the winter monsoon is strongly linked to phased uplift of Tibetan plateau and to Northern Hemispheric Glaciation. In contrast, global cooling since 20 Ma bp may have largely reduced the amount of water vapour held in the atmosphere and thus weakened the Asian summer monsoon. © The Geological Society of London 2010.

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Geological Society Special Publication

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