Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences


The Nihewan Basin, northern China, is a key region to study Quaternary paleoenvironmental, paleontological and Paleolithic histories in East Asia. Previous studies showed that this basin was covered by a lake (i.e., the Nihewan Paleolake) during the Early and Middle Pleistocene. This lake was drained by a river (i.e., the Sanggan River) during the late Middle Pleistocene. The lake and river have deposited thick sequences of fluvial-lacustrine deposits, containing rich assemblages of mammalian fossils and stone artefacts. Although many studies have been carried out in this basin for decades, some critical questions remain unanswered, among which three of them form the focus of this thesis: 1) when, how and why did the Nihewan Paleolake disappear; 2) when did the terraces of the Sanggan River form; 3) what is the relationship between human occupation and environmental change in the Nihewan Basin.

Addressing the above questions rely on of the establishment of firm chronological control for the middle and late Quaternary sediments in the basin. So the overarching aim of this thesis is to develop a robust chronological framework for the mid-to-late Pleistocene geomorphological evolution of the basin. A series of newly developed luminescence dating techniques were used to date the sediments associated with lake-level history of the Nihewan Paleolake, human occupation, and the terraces of the Sanggan River. The suitability of luminescence dating on quartz and potassium-rich feldspar (K-feldspar) from this region were investigated; this includes studies of the thermal stability of the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) signals from quartz, residual and anomalous fading of the post-infrared infrared stimulated luminescence (pIRIR) from K-feldspar, and standardised growth curve of K-feldspar using single aliquots, multiple aliquots and single grains. The performance tests and comparison with independent age controls suggest that quartz OSL is unstable and cannot be used for dating the sediments from this region, whereas K-feldspar pIRIR signals are stable and can provide robust age estimates for samples deposited up to ~780 thousand years ago (ka)...

This thesis is unavailable until Saturday, February 05, 2022



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.