The fluviolacustrine sedimentary sequence of the Chemeron Formation exposed in the Barsemoi River drainage, Tugen Hills, Kenya, contains a package of five successive diatomite/fluvial cycles that record the periodic development of freshwater lakes within the axial portion of the Central Kenya Rift. The overwhelming abundance in the diatomite of planktonic species of the genera Aulacoseira and Stephanodiscus, and the virtual absence of benthic littoral diatoms and detrital material indicate areally extensive, deep lake systems. A paleomagnetic reversal stratigraphy has been determined and chronostratigraphic tie points established by 40Ar/39Ar dating of intercalated tuffs. The sequence spans the interval 3.1-2.35??Ma and bears a detailed record of the Gauss/Matuyama paleomagnetic transition. The 40Ar/39Ar age for this boundary of 2.589 ?? 0.003??Ma can be adjusted to concordance with the Astronomical Polarity Time Scale (APTS) on the basis of an independent calibration to 2.610??Ma, 29??kyr older than the previous APTS age. The diatomites recur at an orbital precessional interval of 23??kyr and are centered on a 400-kyr eccentricity maximum. It is concluded that these diatomite/fluvial cycles reflect a narrow interval of orbitally forced wet/dry climatic conditions that may be expressed regionally across East Africa. The timing of the lacustrine pulses relative to predicted insolation models favors origination of moisture from the northern Africa monsoon, rather than local circulation driven by direct equatorial insolation. This moisture event at 2.7-2.55??Ma, and later East African episodes at 1.9-1.7 and 1.1-0.9??Ma, are approximately coincident with major global climatic and oceanographic events. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Precessional forcing of lacustrine sedimentation in the late Cenozoic Chemeron Basin, Central Kenya Rift, and calibration of the Gauss/Matuyama boundary