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Departments & Programs


Reconstructing Central Asian climate during the Cenozoic

Mongolia scene

We are working in Mongolia and Kazakhstan to produce some of the first Cenozoic stable isotope records from northern Central Asia. As part of an interdisciplinary, multi-university team, we are studying the rise of the Hangay Mountains in central Mongolia and the Altai Mountains at the intersection of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia (project website here). Further, we are examining the role of the mid-latitude westerlies and their interactions with these ranges to understand the drivers of long-term climate change in Central Asia. Such research will help us understand how global climate change, tectonics, and shifting seaways have altered climate on our planet’s largest continent over the past 60 million years.


Recent Publications:

–Caves, J.K., Winnick, M.J., Graham, S.A., Sjostrom, D.J., Mulch, A., Chamberlain, C.P. (2015). Role of the westerlies in Central Asia climate over the Cenozoic. Earth and Planetary Science Letters v. 428, p. 33-43.

–Caves, J.K., Sjostrom, D.J., Mix, H.T., Winnick, M.J., Chamberlain, C.P., (2014) Aridification of Central Asia and Uplift of the Altai and Hangay Mountains, Mongolia: Stable Isotope Evidence. American Journal of Science, v. 314 (8), p. 1171-1201.

–Caves, J.K., Moragne, D.Y., Ibarra, D.E., Bayshashov, B.U., Gao, Y., Jones, M.M., Zhamangara, A., Arzhannikova, A.V., Arzhannikov, S.G., and Chamberlain, C.P. (2016) The Neogene de-greening of Central Asia. Geology, v.44 (11).

Late Miocene Uplift of the Tian Shan and Altai and Reorganization of Central Asia Climate. GSA Today, v. 27 (2).


Field Expeditions Reports:

Kazakhstan-Zaysan Basin 2015 Trip Report

Mongolia 2012 Trip Report


Press Releases:

–Stanford Magazine profiles Caves and his team and their expeditions to Mongolia in 2011 and 2012. Read more.

Stanford Earth press release about our work in Mongolia.

Stanford Earth press release about the "de-greening" of Central Asia.

New Scientist story about "de-greening" and the long-standing deserts in Central Asia.