Late Neogene volcanics and interbedded palaeosols near Mount Kenya
W. C. Mahaney, René W. Barendregt, Mike Villeneuve, Jaroslav Dostal, T. S. Hamilton, Michael W. Milner, 2011. "Late Neogene volcanics and interbedded palaeosols near Mount Kenya", The Formation and Evolution of Africa: A Synopsis of 3.8 Ga of Earth History, D. J. J. Van Hinsbergen, S. J. H. Buiter, T. H. Torsvik, C. Gaina, S. J. Webb
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Two lava flows with interbedded palaeosols outcrop c. 40 km SW of Mount Kenya, near the Amboni River north of Mweiga, Kenya along the Nyeri/Thompson Falls Road, at 0°18′S; 37°48′E. These flows, overlain by loess, are principally trachyandesite and form the base of the Mount Kenya Volcanic Series which, in the early literature, is described as being of probable Miocene/Pliocene age. Here we report 39Ar/40Ar dates (c. 5.2–5.5 Ma) and reversed magnetizations which establish a Latest Miocene to Earliest Pliocene age for these flows. Weathering characteristics of palaeosols interbedded with the lavas indicate generally dry climatic conditions during the Late Miocene, punctuated with humid events during the Pliocene and Quaternary. These Late Miocene–Quaternary palaeosols depict a relatively long and complex weathering history, followed by loess deposition. The palaeosols appear to have been episodically deflated, initially in phase with the deposition of lavas when surfaces were devoid of vegetation and later during periods of climatic deterioration when wind systems intensified. Such weathering histories within palaeosol profiles are also documented on nearby Mount Kenya, where well-weathered lower palaeosol horizons developed on Matuyama-age tills are overlain by much younger less-weathered horizons developed on Brunhes-age loess. The geochronology of Late Miocene lavas reported here provides maximum ages for weathering histories of palaeosols formed in a xeric tropical highland climate.
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The African continent preserves a long geological record that covers almost 75% of Earth’s history. The Pan-Africanorogeny (c.600–500—Ma) brought together old continental kernels (West Africa, Congo, Kalahari and Tanzania) to form Gondwana and subsequently the supercontinent Pangaea by the late Palaeozoic. The break-up of Pangaea since the Jurassic and Cretaceous, primarily through opening of the Central Atlantic, Indian, and South Atlantic oceans, in combination with the complicated subduction history to the north, gradually shaped the African continent.
This volume contains 18 contributions that discuss the geology of Africa from the Archaean to the present day. It celebrates African geology in two ways: first, it highlights multidisciplinary Earth science research by viewing the formation and evolution of Africa from 18 different angles; second, it celebrates the work of Kevin Burke and Lewis Ashwal and portrays the wide range of interests and research angles that have characterized these two scientists throughout their careers, working in Africa, and studying African geology.