Abstract

Age estimates for ancient lakes are important for determining their histories and their rates off biotic and tectonic evolution. In the absence of dated core material from the lake's sedimentary basement, several techniques have been used to generate such age estimates. The most common off these, herein called the reflection seismic-radiocarbon method (RSRM), combines estimates off short-term sediment-accumulation rates derived from radiocarbon-dated cores and depth-to-basement estimates derived from reflection-seismic data at or near the same locality to estimate an age to basement. Age estimates from the RSRM suggest that the structural basins of central Lake Tanganyika began to form between 9 and 12 Ma. Estimates for the northern and southern basins are younger (7 to 8 Ma and 2 to 4 Ma, respectively). The diachroneity off estimates for different segments of the lake. is equivocal, and may be due to erosional loss off record in the northern and southern structural basins or to progressive opening of the rift. The RSRM age estimates for Lake Tanganyika are considerably younger than most prior estimates and clarify the extensional history of the western branch of the East African Rift system.

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