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Manuscript Submission Deadline 31 May 2023

During the Cenozoic, the Earth experienced a climatic transition from a “greenhouse” to an “icehouse” environment, accompanied by the uplift of large mountain ranges such as those of the Tibetan Plateau, and dramatic changes in biodiversity. A fundamental research topic that is related to the climate and ecosystem dilemmas we are facing today is the identification of the interlinkages between Cenozoic tectonics, regional climate changes, and biodiversity changes. In particular, the evolution of Cenozoic surface processes and the associated uplift mechanisms are pivotal, as they modified the carbon cycle and caused global climate change.

There is a growing body of literature that attests to the vital role played by biomarker-based paleoaltitudinal, paleoclimate and paleoecological reconstructions derived from the analysis of Cenozoic sediments deposited in terrestrial and marginal marine basins. Many of these reconstructions have employed biological proxies based on fossils, and organic geochemical proxies based on many groups of hydrocarbons and biomarkers that are well-preserved in Cenozoic sediments. These include n-alkanes, terpenoids, steroids, glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether lipids, alkylnaphthalenes, alkylphenanthrenes, and various combustion-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Paleo-reconstruction studies have also used hydrogen and carbon isotopic compositions of bulk organic matter and some of these biomarkers. A key criterion for paleoaltitudinal, paleoclimate and paleoecological proxies is the ability to select the most appropriate organic geochemical indices for the task and evaluate their applicability. Complications in the use of these geolipids are diagenetic processes soon after burial, microbial alteration, thermal alteration by heating and burial of the sediments, and calibration of the proxies. Combined biomarker studies may reveal different aspects of tectonic and climatic events, and especially the co-evolution of climatic and biological changes that accompany tectonic uplift. Such an approach can therefore shed light on the drivers of key tectonic-climate coupling processes.

This Research Topic aims to present and disseminate recent advances in the chemical and stable isotopic composition of hydrocarbons and biomarkers present in Cenozoic sediments, in order to address the following topics: (1) Continental uplift and associated changes to topography in Asia during the Cenozoic, with the resultant paleoecological and hydrological changes; (2) the evolution of the Asian monsoon over geological time, and the various hydrological and temperature indices, at various temporal scales; (3) the aridification of the Asian continental interior; and (4) the relationship between the uplift history of the Tibetan Plateau and changes in biological evolution and sedimentary processes in the resultant monsoonal-arid environment. Potential research themes include, but are not limited to:

• Terrestrial and marine hydrocarbons and biomarkers, and the stable isotope geochemistry, that shed light on paleoaltitudinal, paleoenvironmental, and paleoecological changes over critical time periods for the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions
• Assessment and development of novel biological and organic geochemical proxies and indices, as well as their applicability to modern environments (e.g., soil, peat, lacustrine sediment, marine sediment, and sea ice)

Keywords: biomarkers, Cenozoic sediments, Tibetan Plateau, stable isotopes, paleoclimate, paleoecology, paleoaltitude


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

During the Cenozoic, the Earth experienced a climatic transition from a “greenhouse” to an “icehouse” environment, accompanied by the uplift of large mountain ranges such as those of the Tibetan Plateau, and dramatic changes in biodiversity. A fundamental research topic that is related to the climate and ecosystem dilemmas we are facing today is the identification of the interlinkages between Cenozoic tectonics, regional climate changes, and biodiversity changes. In particular, the evolution of Cenozoic surface processes and the associated uplift mechanisms are pivotal, as they modified the carbon cycle and caused global climate change.

There is a growing body of literature that attests to the vital role played by biomarker-based paleoaltitudinal, paleoclimate and paleoecological reconstructions derived from the analysis of Cenozoic sediments deposited in terrestrial and marginal marine basins. Many of these reconstructions have employed biological proxies based on fossils, and organic geochemical proxies based on many groups of hydrocarbons and biomarkers that are well-preserved in Cenozoic sediments. These include n-alkanes, terpenoids, steroids, glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether lipids, alkylnaphthalenes, alkylphenanthrenes, and various combustion-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Paleo-reconstruction studies have also used hydrogen and carbon isotopic compositions of bulk organic matter and some of these biomarkers. A key criterion for paleoaltitudinal, paleoclimate and paleoecological proxies is the ability to select the most appropriate organic geochemical indices for the task and evaluate their applicability. Complications in the use of these geolipids are diagenetic processes soon after burial, microbial alteration, thermal alteration by heating and burial of the sediments, and calibration of the proxies. Combined biomarker studies may reveal different aspects of tectonic and climatic events, and especially the co-evolution of climatic and biological changes that accompany tectonic uplift. Such an approach can therefore shed light on the drivers of key tectonic-climate coupling processes.

This Research Topic aims to present and disseminate recent advances in the chemical and stable isotopic composition of hydrocarbons and biomarkers present in Cenozoic sediments, in order to address the following topics: (1) Continental uplift and associated changes to topography in Asia during the Cenozoic, with the resultant paleoecological and hydrological changes; (2) the evolution of the Asian monsoon over geological time, and the various hydrological and temperature indices, at various temporal scales; (3) the aridification of the Asian continental interior; and (4) the relationship between the uplift history of the Tibetan Plateau and changes in biological evolution and sedimentary processes in the resultant monsoonal-arid environment. Potential research themes include, but are not limited to:

• Terrestrial and marine hydrocarbons and biomarkers, and the stable isotope geochemistry, that shed light on paleoaltitudinal, paleoenvironmental, and paleoecological changes over critical time periods for the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions
• Assessment and development of novel biological and organic geochemical proxies and indices, as well as their applicability to modern environments (e.g., soil, peat, lacustrine sediment, marine sediment, and sea ice)

Keywords: biomarkers, Cenozoic sediments, Tibetan Plateau, stable isotopes, paleoclimate, paleoecology, paleoaltitude


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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