Mainly using sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology, geotectonics, tectonic geology, geochemistry, geochronology and other methods and means, the team is devoted to the geological research of Qinghai-Tibet Tethys, including sedimentary basin analysis, deep-time climate and paleoenvironment. Currently, the team is also focusing on riverine sand source-to-sink system and sedimentary big data research.
1. Reconstruction of subduction-collision processes from clastic sedimentary records
As a core element of plate tectonics, continental collision preserves a continuous sedimentary record of the orogenic process, which is of great research value for reconstructing the continental collision process. The use of geotectonic sedimentology methods and theories to solve the continental collisional orogenic process is the core research content of continental dynamics today, which has very important practical significance.
Currently, the team mainly focuses on several important continental collision events occurred in the Middle-Cenozoic Tethys domain, and reconstructs its continental collisional orogenic process by precisely confirming the initial continental collision time and ocean extinction time from stratigraphic-depositional records based on detailed field geological investigations. We explored and improved the methodological system to reconstruct the subduction-collision process from stratigraphic-sedimentary approach.
2. Extraction of paleomarine and paleoclimatic information from the carbonate record of Tethys Ocean
The Mesozoic-Palaeocene is a typical period of greenhouse climate and the geological record is the most well preserved. The series of short-term warming events related to the global carbon cycle that occurred during this period have significant insights into how human society should respond to the possible global warming trend today. The Tethys tectonic domain preserves a rich marine and terrestrial record and is an excellent area to study major ocean-climate events at low latitudes.
The team carried out high-precision sedimentological, stratigraphic, paleontological and stable isotope geochemical studies on carbonate sedimentary records in the Himalaya, Zagros and Alps to extract the paleo-oceanic parameters at that time and systematically reconstruct the period, magnitude and scale of rapid climate change in deep time; explored the intrinsic laws and mechanisms of rapid climate change, the impact on biology and environment, and then provided reference for the current anthropogenic activities which caused global warming.
3. Trace “source-to-sink characteristics and changes from modern riverine sand composition
Riverine sand material composition is a faithful record of the source area of the watershed. By analyzing river sand mineral fraction and single weight minerals, we can effectively obtain the rock information of the source area. With the increasing maturity of clastic monomineral research and the continuous development of microzone analysis technology, a new world has been created for the study of fluvial sands, which has become a new frontier and direction in sedimentological research.
The team is now focusing on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which is known as the Water Tower of Asia, and has conducted systematic sampling of its major rivers (e.g. Yarlung Tsangpo River basin) to carry out quantitative statistical analysis of river sand mineral composition and heavy minerals. The team also conducted elemental geochemical and isotopic geochemical tests on some single minerals (such as spinel, titanite, rutile, monazite, garnet, tourmaline, etc.) to distinguish the characteristics of different source areas and to provide new methods and theoretical guidelines for source analysis.
4. Deposition of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence
With the advancement of data storage, computing, and analysis technologies, human beings have the ability to process massive amounts of data and extract information from them, and a new scientific research paradigm, data-intensive scientific discovery, has emerged.
The team focuses on the application of big data in earth sciences, especially sedimentology; engages intensively in the Deep Time Digital Earth Initiative (DDE) to provide academic support for the sedimentation data platform; applies big data in earth sciences to solve practical scientific problems, with emphasis on major scientific problems such as bio-climate-sediment interaction mechanism, sea level rise and fall and its mechanism, 3D structure of marine environment, and source-to-sink process model.
In addition, we cooperate with computer experts to develop new computer technologies such as machine learning, image processing, and artificial intelligence to develop automatic quantitative statistical techniques and methods for riverine sand and minerals, new methods for automatic identification of microscopic debris particle boundaries, etc. to realize the artificial intelligence of traditional geoscience.