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The Pliocene Hadar Formation (Ethiopia) preserves a rich geological and paleontological record germane to our understanding of early hominin evolution. At the Hadar Research Project area, ~155 m of Hadar Formation strata span the interval from ca. 3.45 to 2.90 Ma and consist of floodplain paleosols (dominantly Vertisols), fluvial and deltaic sands, and both pedogenically modified and unmodified lacustrine clays and silts. Clays and silts constitute the majority of the Hadar sediments. In the absence of clear lacustrine indicators, most of these fine-grained sediments are interpreted as fluvial floodplain or delta-plain deposits that exhibit varying degrees of pedogenic modification. Lacustrine and lake-margin deposits are represented by laminated mudstones, gastropod coquinas, limestones, and certain pedogenically modified and unmodified strata preserving gastropods, ostracods, and aquatic vertebrate remains. Most sands can be attributed to channel and point-bar deposits of a large-scale meandering river system or associated crevasse-splay and distributary-channel deposits.

Fluvial-deltaic deposition predominated at Hadar. The lacustrine depocenter was located east and northeast of Hadar, but lacustrine transgressions into the region were a regular occurrence. Evidence presented here suggests that during lacustrine-dominated intervals, lake water depths at Hadar were most likely relatively shallow and included repeated regression events across a low-gradient shoreline. Vertebrate remains at Hadar are disproportionately recovered from fluvial and deltaic sands and silts. This is most likely a taphonomic effect related to the low preservation potential of bones in Vertisols, which are common at Hadar, as opposed to their original distribution across the paleolandscape.

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