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Surface exposure dating reveals MIS-3 glacial maximum in the Khangai Mountains of Mongolia

  • Henrik Rother (a1), Frank Lehmkuhl (a2), David Fink (a3) and Veit Nottebaum (a2)


This study presents results from geomorphological mapping and cosmogenic radionuclide dating (10Be) of moraine sequences at Otgon Tenger (3905 m), the highest peak in the Khangai Mountains (central Mongolia). Our findings indicate that glaciers reached their last maximum extent between 40 and 35 ka during Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 3. Large ice advances also occurred during MIS-2 (at ~ 23 and 17–16 ka), but these advances did not exceed the limits reached during MIS-3. The results indicate that climatic conditions during MIS-3, characterized by a cool-wet climate with a greater-than-today input from winter precipitation, generated the most favorable setting for glaciation in the study region. Yet, glacial accumulation also responded positively to the far colder and drier conditions of MIS-2, and again during the last glacial–interglacial transition when precipitation levels increased. Viewed in context of other Pleistocene glacial records from High Asia, the pattern of glaciation in central Mongolia shares some features with records from southern Central Asia and NE-Tibet (i.e. ice maxima during interstadial wet phases), while other features of the Mongolian record (i.e. major ice expansion during the MIS-2 insolation minimum) are more in tune with glacier responses known from Siberia and western Central Asia.


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*Corresponding author. E-mail address: (H. Rother).


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