Late Middle Pleistocene climate in southwestern China: inferences from the stratigraphic record of Panxian Dadong Cave, Guizhou


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date


Publication Title

Quaternary Science Reviews

Volume Number


Issue Number



Panxian Dadong Cave, situated in the subtropical zone of southwestern China, preserves a fan-like sedimentary sequence close to its entrance that spans the period between MIS 8 and 5 (300–130 ka). The frequent alternation of flowstone formation, cementation, clastic deposition, and frost activity in the depositional sequence makes it ideal for reconstructing the environmental conditions prevailing during the later Middle Pleistocene on the Guizhou Plateau. Macroscopic and microscopic sedimentary analyses determine that clastic deposits were entering the cave in the form of intermittent cohesive debris flows and sheetflows during cold and relatively dry climatic conditions when vegetation cover was reduced. Interlayered impure flowstones were forming during wetter phases but still under glacial conditions. Seasonally freezing temperatures are deduced from the frequent occurrence of cycles of well-developed freeze–thaw features affecting both the clastic parts of the sequence and the flowstones as they were deposited. The described depositional processes were responsible for lateral redistribution on the fan surface of bone remains and lithic artifacts that were accumulating on the surface as a result of hominid activities. During the intervening interglacial stages (MIS 7 and possibly MIS 5) clastic deposition was considerably reduced and only thin flowstone caps and weathering manganese–iron crusts were forming. It is suggested that precipitation was much higher during glacial intervals than interglacials under a predominantly cold climate. Dadong Cave provides a good example of very cold and wet climatic conditions during glacials in the subtropics of East Asia.

Document Type


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)