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Mapping and description of the Hadar and Busidima Formations in the northern Awash valley, Ethiopia, have been greatly aided by the use of tephrostratigraphy and tephra correlation in the Dikika, Gona, Hadar, and Ledi-Geraru paleoanthropological project areas. The Hadar Formation contains at least nine dated tuffs, many of which have been correlated across the northern Awash project areas, and all of which are easily distinguished from each other on the basis of major-element chemistry. The overlying Busidima Formation contains at least 35 distinct tuffs, many of which are firmly or approximately dated. Because of their discontinuous and compositionally similar nature, many of the Busidima Formation tuffs are not correlated across the northern Awash project areas. Trace-element compositional data or detailed stratigraphic information may be necessary for correlation or relative placement of many of the Busidima Formation tuffs. Differences in the frequency, chemistry, and extent of Hadar and Busidima Formation tuffs preserved in the northern Awash valley may ultimately be related to the tectonic evolution of the region throughout the Pliocene-Pleistocene, as well as to basin-scale geological processes. Despite a number of known issues in tephra correlation, the composite tephrostratigraphy assembled for the northern Awash valley demonstrates the effectiveness of this technique, which has played a key role in ongoing efforts to document the geological history of this unique and important region.

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