Climate shift recorded at around 10 Ma in Miocene succession of Samburu Hills, northern Kenya Rift, and its significance
Tetsuya Sakai, Mototaka Saneyoshi, Satoshi Tanaka, Yoshihiro Sawada, Masato Nakatsukasa, Emma Mbua, Hidemi Ishida, 2010. "Climate shift recorded at around 10 Ma in Miocene succession of Samburu Hills, northern Kenya Rift, and its significance", Monsoon Evolution and Tectonic–Climate Linkage in Asia, P. D. Clift, R. Tada, H. Zheng
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A significant climate shift around 9.6 Ma has been detected from the Middle to Upper Miocene Aka Aiteputh and Namurungule Formations exposed in the Samburu Hills, northern Kenya. Around 9.6 Ma, changes in sediments are recorded from the red soil-dominated interval of the upper Aka Aiteputh Formation to the lacustrine and deltaic facies of the lower Namurungule Formation, containing open woodland/savanna mammalian fauna. These reveal a shift from a dry climate with seasonal precipitation to a climate with strong seasonality. In particular, an increase in precipitation was recorded by the predominance of lacustrine facies. This shift happened at around the same time as the intensification of the Indian summer monsoon that has been detected in the Himalayas and some of surrounding regions.
There are two scenarios that could explain the increased precipitation at the beginning of the deposition of the Namurungule Formation: (1) enhanced moisture transport by the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), synchronized with Indian summer monsoon intensification, or (2) intensification of the Indian summer monsoon itself, permitting moisture to penetrate deep into East Africa if the altitude of the rifted area was lower than it is now. Presently, the former is considered to be the more plausible explanation for the climate shift detected in the Samburu Hills.
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The Earth’s climate varies through geological time as a result of external, orbital processes, as well as the positions of continents, growth of mountains and the opening and closure of oceanic gateways. Climate modelling suggests that the intensity of the Asian monsoon should correlate, at least in part, with the uplift history of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya, as well as the evolution of gateways and the retreat of shallow seas in Central Asia. Long-term reconstructions of both mountain building and monsoon activity are key to testing the proposed links. This collection of papers presents a series of new studies documenting the variations of the Asian monsoon on orbital and tectonic timescales, together with the impact this has had on environmental conditions. The issue of which proxies are best suited to measuring monsoons is addressed, as is the effect that the monsoon has had on erosion and the formation of the stratigraphic record both on and offshore.