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Plio-Pleistocene sedimentation in West Turkana (Turkana Depression, Kenya, East African Rift System): Paleolake fluctuations, paleolandscapes and controlling factors

Abstract : Pliocene and Pleistocene sediments from West Turkana (Kenya, East African Rift System) form emblematic syn-rift successions for understanding the evolution of extensional basin and continental rifting. They also constitute world-renowned fossil-bearing strata from which >500 hominin fossils were discovered over the past decades, with >100 inventoried archeological sites. However, associated sedimentary dynamics and architectures as well as paleoenvironments are only partially reconstructed and the relative contribution of climate and tectonism to paleoenvironmental change over time remains unclear. Here, through the interpretation of sedimentary facies, the delineation of sequences and the analysis of δ13C in soil carbonates, we provide the first exhaustive reconstruction from ~4 to ~0.75 Ma of (i) fluctuations of the paleolake that occupied the Turkana Depression, (ii) the successive sedimentary dynamics and related paleolandscapes that characterized the West Turkana area and (iii) respective roles of climate and tectonism in the sedimentation. We show evidence for seven major transgression-regression (T-R) cycles between ~4 and ~ 0.75 Ma superimposed locally by lower amplitude T-R cycles., Comparing the sedimentological interpretations and the δ13C values in soil carbonates (literature data), we reveal that fluctuations of rainfall over the Ethiopian Dome, which hosts the drainage basin of the Omo River — the main tributary of Lake Turkana — controlled high-amplitude lake level fluctuations during the Plio-Pleistocene period. We also demonstrate that vegetation and tree cover evolved differently in the Omo Valley and West Turkana. Furthermore we outline that two different sedimentary systems reflecting two distinct modes of sedimentation alternated through times in the West Turkana area as a response to the variations in sediment supply coming from the western rift shoulder (i.e. Lapurr Range) that alternatively generated wave- or river-dominated sedimentary systems. In conclusion, we reveal that climate regulated water input, paleolake water-level fluctuations and vegetation. Tectonism determined sediment supply to the basin controlled in West Turkana by pulses of increased activity of the main border fault (i.e., the Murua Rith Lapurr Fault).
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Alexis Nutz, M. Schuster, Doris Barboni, Ghislain Gassier, Bert van Bocxlaer, et al.. Plio-Pleistocene sedimentation in West Turkana (Turkana Depression, Kenya, East African Rift System): Paleolake fluctuations, paleolandscapes and controlling factors. Earth-Science Reviews, Elsevier, 2020, 211, pp.1-32. ⟨10.1016/j.earscirev.2020.103415⟩. ⟨insu-02981457⟩



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