Timing and climatic drivers for glaciation across semi-arid western Himalayan-Tibetan orogen

Jason M. Dortch, Lewis A. Owen, Marc W. Caffee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Mapping and forty-seven new 10Be ages help define the timing of glaciation in the Ladakh and Pangong Ranges in Northwest India. Five new local glacial stages are defined for the Ladakh Range. From oldest to youngest these include: the Ladakh-4 glacial stage at 81±20ka; the Ladakh-3 glacial stage (not dated); the Ladakh-2 glacial stage at 22±3ka; the Ladakh-1 glacial stage (not dated); and the Ladakh Cirque glacial stage at 1.8±0.4ka. Three local glacial stages are defined for the Pangong Range, which include: the Pangong-2 glacial stage at 85±15ka; the Pangong-1 glacial stage at 40±3ka; and the Pangong Cirque glacial stage at 0.4±0.3ka. The new 10Be ages are combined with 645 recalculated 10Be ages from previous studies to develop the first regional framework of glaciation across the dryland regions of the Greater Himalaya, Transhimalaya, Pamir and Tian Shan at the western end of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen. Nineteen regional glacial stages are recognized that are termed semi-arid western Himalayan-Tibetan stages (SWHTS). These include: SWHTS 9 at 311±32ka; SWHTS 7 at 234±44ka [tentative]; SWHTS 6 at 146±18ka; SWHTS 5E at 121±11ka; SWHTS 5A at 80±5ka; SWHTS 5A- at 72±8ka; SWHTS 4 at 61±5ka; SWHTS 3 at 46±4ka; SWHTS 2F at 30±3ka; SWHTS 2E at 20±2ka; SWHTS 2D at 16.9±0.7ka; SWHTS 2C at 14.9±0.8ka; SWHTS 2B at 13.9±0.5ka; SWHTS 2A at 12.2±0.8ka; SWHTS 1E at 8.8±0.3ka [tentative]; SWHTS 1D at 6.9±0.2ka [tentative]; SWHTS 1C at 3.8±0.6ka; SWHTS 1B at 1.7±0.2ka; and SWHTS 1A at 0.4±0.1ka. Regional glacial stages older than 21ka are broadly correlated with strong monsoons. SWHTS that are 21ka or younger, have smaller uncertainties and broadly correlate with global ice volume given by marine Oxygen Isotope Stages, and northern hemisphere climatic events (Oldest Dryas, Older Dryas, Younger Dryas, Roman Humid Period, and Little Ice Age).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-208
Number of pages21
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Oct 15 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Madhav Murari and Dr. Patrick Applegate for help and discussion on gaussian separation, Susan Ma and PRIME Laboratory for help with cosmogenic dating, reviewers Dr. Jacob Heyman and Dr. Yeong Bae Seong for excellent reviews that helped to improve this manuscript and Dr. Neil Glasser for being a patient editor. JD thanks the University of Cincinnati Geochronology Laboratories ; Sigma Xi, the American Alpine Club for funding this project. JD also thanks Kara the hammer for years of faithful service collecting 100's of cosmogenic and dozens of thermochronology samples before finally making the ultimate sacrifice to scientific progress. LAO and MWC thank the University of Cincinnati for funding their field cost.


  • Chronology
  • Cosmogenic radionuclide dating
  • Gaussian
  • Glaciation
  • Himalaya
  • Moraine
  • Tibet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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