Controlling weathering and erosion intensity on the southern slope of the Central Himalaya by the Indian summer monsoon during the last glacial

Yoshihiro Kuwahara, Yukiko Masudome, Mukunda Raj Paudel, Rie Fujii, Tatsuya Hayashi, Mami Mampuku, Harutaka Sakai

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Abstract

This paper reports the results of clay mineral analysis (the amount of clay fraction, clay mineral assemblages, illite crystallinity) of samples collected from a drilled core (Rabibhawan (RB) core) located in the west-central part of the Kathmandu Basin on the southern slope of the Central Himalaya. The amount of clay fraction in the core sediments between 12 m and 45 m depth (corresponding to ca. 17-76 ka), which belong to the Kalimati Formation, is variable and shows three clay-poor zones (19-31 ka, 44-51 ka, and 66-75 ka). The variations correspond with those of illite crystallinity index (Lanson index (LI) and modified Lanson index (MLI)) and kaolinite/illite ratio as well as the fossil pollen and diatom records reported by previous workers. These data reveal the following transformations occurring during the weathering process in this area:micas (mainly muscovite) → illite (→ illite - smectite mixed layer mineral (R = 1)) → kaolinite. The sedimentation rate (~ 50 cm/kyr) of clay-poor zones that correspond to dry climate intervals is only half that of clay-rich zones (~ 120 cm/kyr) that correspond to wet climate intervals, indicating weakened chemical weathering and erosion and low suspended discharge during dry climate intervals. The clay-poor zones commonly show unique laminite beds with very fine, authigenic calcite, which was probably precipitated under calm and high calcite concentration conditions caused by low precipitation and run-off. The variations between dry and wet conditions in this area as deduced from clay minerals appear to follow the Indian Summer Monsoon Index (ISMI) (30°N-30°S, 1 July) and northern hemisphere summer insolation (NHSI) signals (30°N) at 1 July, especially during the dry climate zones, whereas the wet maxima of the wet climate zones somewhat deviate from the strongest NHSI. On the other hand, the dry-wet records lead markedly the SPECMAP stack (by about 5000 years). These results suggest that the Indian summer monsoon precipitation was strongly controlled by the NHSI or summer insolation difference between the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau and the subtropical Indian Ocean, showing a major fluctuation on the 23,000 years precessional cycle, and that it was not driven by changes in high-latitude ice volume, although the records of clay mineral indices during the wet intervals leave a question that other factors, in addition to insolation forcing, may play important roles in weathering, erosion, and sedimentation processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Volume71
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Oceanography

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