Palaeomagnetism and Magnetic Fabrics of The Lake Natron Escarpment Volcano-sedimentary Sequence, Northern Tanzania

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract: The East African Rift System diverges in the Lake Natron Basin of Northern Tanzania and is a major zone of continental extension and crustal thinning with resulting in active tectonics and volcanism. The discovery of Acheulean technology in Olduvai Gorge and Peninj as well as the presence of significant volcanic centers, has made in the region subject to studies in various disciplines. However, lack of precise radiometric age constraints due to the complex geology of the region is a major drawback. The basin is bordered on the western side by an escarpment that contains thick sequences of volcanic (nephelinites, basanites, hawaiites, alkali basalts), volcaniclastic and lacustrine strata that predates 1.2 Ma. This thesis is based on 41 rock samples that were collected from two geological sections, the Endukai Kete (EK) and Waterfall (WF) sections and aims to establish a preliminary geomagnetic polarity time scale (GPTS) for the Natron Escarpment, together with establishing possible flow directions of the volcanic lavas within these sections. Nephelinites of EK section have an inferred NW-SE direction of flow, based on study of anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility. They record a normal polarity that most likely correspond to the Cobb Mountain Event (CMT; 1.187-1.208 Ma), although there is an 80-ka discrepancy between the CMT event and the dated lavas. The most probable source is the Mosonik that erupted nephelinitic lavas 1.28 Ma ago. The palagonitic tuff layer below the nephelinites displays reverse polarity and a NE-SW direction of flow. Due to the absence of approximately 200 m strata within the basanite series of the section, regional lithological correlation is used to constrain the GPTS pattern. Hajaro Beds of the Peninj Group to the north of the escarpment, postdates the Olduvai Event (1.71 to 1.86 Ma) and lacustrine strata of the escarpment for EK and WF sections are deposited over the same unconformity and share depositional similarities. Therefore, the lacustrine strata are correlative to Hajaro beds and the normal event observed within the basanite series of both sections is attributed to the Réunion Event (2.116 – 2.137 Ma). The establishment of a preliminary magnetostratigraphic sequence presented in this thesis demonstrate that the rift escarpment in northern Tanzania is suitable for paleomagnetic dating. Future studies should be conducted to establish a more detailed and constrained magnetostratigraphic section, which will be of great use in this part of the African Rift where radiometric dating has been challenging.

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