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Fluvial entrenchment and integration of the Sanmen Gorge, the Lower Yellow River

Hu, ZhenBo; Li, MengHao; Dong, ZiJuan; Guo, LianYong; Bridgland, David; Pan, BaoTian; Li, XiaoHua; Liu, XiaoFeng

Fluvial entrenchment and integration of the Sanmen Gorge, the Lower Yellow River Thumbnail


ZhenBo Hu

MengHao Li

ZiJuan Dong

LianYong Guo

BaoTian Pan

XiaoHua Li

XiaoFeng Liu


Strategic studies of gravel deposits, in particular using heavy-mineral analyses, have thrown light on the important unresolved question as to the timing of the initiation of the Yellow River drainage through the Sanmen Gorge, which linked the headwaters of that system in the Fenwei Basin and further upstream with the North China Plain and the Pacific Ocean in the east. Survey of the Sanmen Gorge reach revealed previously unrecognized gravel levels: a higher fifth terrace (T5) and a gravel that formed on a high-level planation surface that is preserved on the flanks of the gorge, below the Xiaoshan upland. This high-level gravel differs markedly from the Yellow River terraces, with a lack of material from the upstream catchment, and would appear to represent a small fluvial catchment that developed in the area during the formation of the planation surface, before the Sanmen Gorge was excavated. Comparison was also made with basin-fill gravels from the endorheic fluvio-lacustrine system that existed immediately upstream of the gorge, and was captured by the Yellow River when the latter was cut, and with the modern bedload gravel of the Yellow River in this reach. The former contains significant quantities of unstable hornblende, which implies more local derivation for the endorheic system, whereas the modern bedload resembles the terrace gravels in showing compositional maturity and long-distance transport from upstream within the catchment. The work reinforces a minimum age of 1.2 Ma for the formation of the Sanmen Gorge.


Hu, Z., Li, M., Dong, Z., Guo, L., Bridgland, D., Pan, B., …Liu, X. (2019). Fluvial entrenchment and integration of the Sanmen Gorge, the Lower Yellow River. Global and Planetary Change, 178, 129-138.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 15, 2019
Publication Date Jun 30, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 16, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 15, 2020
Journal Global and Planetary Change
Print ISSN 0921-8181
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 178
Pages 129-138


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