Reference : Environmental significance of Upper Miocene phosphorites at hominid sites in the Luke...
Scientific journals : Article
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Earth sciences & physical geography
Environmental significance of Upper Miocene phosphorites at hominid sites in the Lukeino Formation (Tugen Hills, Kenya)
Dericquebourg, Perrine mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de Géologie > > Doct. sc. (géologie - Bologne) >]
Person, Alain [Université Pierre et Marie Currie - Paris 6 - UPMC > > > >]
Ségalen, Loïc [Université Pierre et Marie Currie - Paris 6 - UPMC > > > >]
Pickford, Martin [Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris, France) > > > >]
Senut, Brigitte [Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris, France) > > > >]
Fagel, Nathalie [Université de Liège > Département de géologie > Argiles, géochimie et environnements sédimentaires >]
Sedimentary Geology
Elsevier Science
Yes (verified by ORBi)
The Netherlands
[en] Lacustrine sediment ; Mineralogy ; Diatoms ; Phosphogenesis ; Palaeoenvironment ; Upper Miocene Lukeino Formation
[en] The Lukeino Formation contains an important sedimentary and fossiliferous record of the late Miocene (6.09–5.68 Ma), which has in particular yielded the fossil remains of the oldest East African bipedal hominid called Orrorin tugenensis. This fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary succession crops out in the Kenyan part of the East African Rift. It is mainly composed of clay to sandy clay deposits intercalated with volcanic ash horizons, and localized layers of carbonates and diatomites. A detailed sedimentological and mineralogical study of the Lukeino Formation was conducted to throw light on the environmental conditions in which the hominids lived.
Several centimetric, relatively continuous and indurated phosphatic horizons, of sedimentary origin, were identified at two sites (Sunbarua and Kapcheberek). Mineralogical (XRD) and geochemical analyses as well as observations by SEM, which was coupled with an energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) microprobe, indicate that the autochthonous phosphate layers are composed of a micritic matrix of francolite (38–93%), with incorporation of silicates in variable proportions from one layer to another. The phosphate matrix contains very well preserved and abundant diatom frustules in the basal phosphate layer. These diatoms are identified as Aulacoseira granulata, implying a pH of 7.8–8.2 for freshwaters of the Palaeolake Lukeino. Calcitic tubular structures, linked to a possible bacterial origin, are also observed locally.
Phosphate layers occur abruptly within a thick clay–sandy series, associated with an intense runoff phase during the deposition of this interval of the Lukeino Formation. The massive and cyclic input of phosphorus to the lake promoted productivity to the stage where it caused a diatom bloom. The establishment of several phosphate horizons testifies to successive phases of eutrophication of Palaeolake Lukeino. The diatom cells provided some of the organic matter, which was decomposed by bacterial activity at the bottom of the lake in suboxic conditions, but in insufficient quantities to fully form the phosphatic materials. The rest of the organic matter needed for phosphogenesis came from terrigenous supply (plant debris), suggesting the presence of dense vegetation in the catchment of the Palaeolake Lukeino, during this well-drained interval of deposition of the Lukeino Formation.

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