Tectonic and climatic control on evolution of rift lakes in the Central Kenya Rift, East Africa

  • The long-term histories of the neighboring Nakuru-Elmenteita and Naivasha lake basins in the Central Kenya Rift illustrate the relative importance of tectonic versus climatic effects on rift-lake evolution and the formation of disparate sedimentary environments. Although modem climate conditions in the Central Kenya Rift are very similar for these basins, hydrology and hydrochemistry of present-day lakes Nakuru, Elmenteita and Naivasha contrast dramatically due to tectonically controlled differences in basin geometries, catchment size, and fluvial processes. In this study, we use eighteen C-14 and Ar-40/Ar-39 dated fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary sections to unravel the spatiotemporal evolution of the lake basins in response to tectonic and climatic influences. We reconstruct paleoclimatic and ecological trends recorded in these basins based on fossil diatom assemblages and geologic field mapping. Our study shows a tendency towards increasing alkalinity and shrinkage of water bodies in both lake basins during the last million years.The long-term histories of the neighboring Nakuru-Elmenteita and Naivasha lake basins in the Central Kenya Rift illustrate the relative importance of tectonic versus climatic effects on rift-lake evolution and the formation of disparate sedimentary environments. Although modem climate conditions in the Central Kenya Rift are very similar for these basins, hydrology and hydrochemistry of present-day lakes Nakuru, Elmenteita and Naivasha contrast dramatically due to tectonically controlled differences in basin geometries, catchment size, and fluvial processes. In this study, we use eighteen C-14 and Ar-40/Ar-39 dated fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary sections to unravel the spatiotemporal evolution of the lake basins in response to tectonic and climatic influences. We reconstruct paleoclimatic and ecological trends recorded in these basins based on fossil diatom assemblages and geologic field mapping. Our study shows a tendency towards increasing alkalinity and shrinkage of water bodies in both lake basins during the last million years. Ongoing volcano-tectonic segmentation of the lake basins, as well as reorganization of upstream drainage networks have led to contrasting hydrologic regimes with adjacent alkaline and freshwater conditions. During extreme wet periods in the past, such as during the early Holocene climate optimum, lake levels were high and all basins evolved toward freshwater systems. During drier periods some of these lakes revert back to alkaline conditions, while others maintain freshwater characteristics. Our results have important implications for the use and interpretation of lake sediment as climate archives in tectonically active regions and emphasize the need to deconvolve lacustrine records with respect to tectonics versus climatic forcing mechanisms.show moreshow less

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Author:Andreas G. N. Bergner, Manfred R. StreckerORCiDGND, Martin H. Trauth, Alan L. Deino, Francoise Gasse, Peter Michael Blisniuk, Miriam Duehnforth
URL:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/02773791
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.07.008
ISSN:0277-3791
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2009
Year of Completion:2009
Release Date:2017/03/25
Source:Quaternary science review. - ISSN 0277-3791. - 28 (2009), 25-26, S. 2804 - 2816
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Geowissenschaften
Peer Review:Referiert