Impact of Quaternary Glaciations on Denudation Rates in North Pamir—Tian Shan Inferred From Cosmogenic 10Be and Low-Temperature Thermochronology

Publication Name

Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface


We explore the spatial and temporal variations in denudation rates in the northern Pamir—Tian Shan region using 10Be-derived denudation rates from modern (n = 110) and buried sediment (2.0–2.7 Ma; n = 3), and long-term exhumation rates from published apatite fission track (AFT; n = 705) and apatite (U-Th-Sm)/He (AHe; n = 211) thermochronology. We found moderate correlations between denudation rates and topographic metrics and weak correlations between denudation rates and annual rainfall, highlighting complex linkages among tectonics, climate, and surface processes that vary locally. The 10Be data show a spatial trend of decreasing modern denudation rates from west to east, suggesting that deformation and precipitation control denudation in the northern Pamir and western Tian Shan. Farther east, the denudational response of the landscape to Quaternary glaciations is more pronounced and reflected in our data. Modern 10Be denudation rates are generally higher than the long-term AFT and AHe exhumation rates across the studied area. In the Kyrgyz Tian Shan, on average, the highest 10Be denudation rates are recorded in the Terskey range, south of Lake Issyk-Kul. Here, modern denudation rates are higher than 10Be-derived paleo-denudation rates, which are comparable in magnitude with the long-term exhumation rates inferred from AFT and AHe. We propose that denudation in the region, particularly in the Terskey range, remained relatively steady during the Neogene and early Pleistocene. Denudation increased due to glacial-interglacial cycles in the Quaternary, but this occurred after the onset and intensification of the Northern Hemisphere glaciations at 2.7 Ma.

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Article Number


Funding Number

SO 436/9‐1

Funding Sponsor

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft



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