Magnetostratigraphy of the eastern Hadar Basin (Ledi-Geraru research area, Ethiopia) and implications for hominin paleoenvironments

Guillaume Dupont-Nivet, Mark Sier, Christopher J. Campisano, J. Ramón Arrowsmith, Erin DiMaggio, Kaye Reed, Charles Lockwood, Christine Franke, Silja Hüsing

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24 Scopus citations


To date and characterize depositional environments of the hominin-bearing Hadar Formation, lacustrine sediments from the eastern part of the Hadar Basin (Ledi-Geraru research area) were studied using tephrostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy. The Sidi Hakoma Tuff, Triple Tuff-4, and the Kada Hadar Tuff, previously dated by 40 Ar/ 39 Ar in other parts of the basin, were identified using characteristic geochemical composition and lithologic features. Paleomagnetic samples were collected every 0.5 m along an ∼230-m-thick composite section between the Sidi Hakoma Tuff and the Kada Hadar Tuff. A primary detrital remanent magnetization mostly carried by (titano-) magnetites of basaltic origin was recognized. Consistent with existing data of the Hadar Basin, paleomagnetic directions show a postdepositional counterclockwise vertical-axis tectonic rotation (∼5°-10°) and shallowing of paleomagnetic inclination (∼5°-10°) related to sedimentation and compaction. Two normal-polarity intervals (chrons 2An.3n and 2An.2n) are recorded bracketing a reversed interval identified as the Mammoth event (chron 2An.2r). Resulting sediment accumulation rates (∼90 cm/k.y.) are high compared to existing accumulation-rate estimates from the more western part of the Hadar Basin. The resulting eastward increasing trend suggests that deposition took place in an eastward-tilting basin. Sediment accumulations were constant throughout the basin from ca. 3.4 to 3.2 Ma. At 3.2 Ma, a regional and relatively short-lived event is indicated by significant change in depositional conditions and a large increase in accumulation rate. This disruption may have been related to increased climate variability due to astronomical climate forcing. It provides a possible explanation for changes in the Hadar faunal community and Australopithecus afarensis in particular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-85
Number of pages19
JournalSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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