Tropical East African climate change and its relation to global climate: A record from Lake Tanganyika, Tropical East Africa, over the past 90+kyr

Allison P. Burnett, Michael J. Soreghan, Christopher A. Scholz, Erik T. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Forcing mechanisms of tropical climate in continental areas remain poorly understood, due in large part to a lack of continuous, long-term, high-fidelity records. Sediment core T97-52V from Lake Tanganyika provides new insight into the timing and mechanisms behind East African climate change over the past 90+. kyr. This record is particularly important, because, other than a recently recovered scientific drill core from Lake Malawi, there are no other continuous, well-dated records from East Africa prior to 60. ka. The high resolution age model presented here provides a large degree of age certainty for the past 45+. kyr, and our suite of proxies allows a thorough examination of Lake Tanganyika's dynamics. From core stratigraphy and chemical analyses, we present evidence of a lake level drop greater than 400. m sometime prior to ~. 90. ka, much greater than that inferred for the LGM, suggesting a period of intense aridity sometime around 100. ka. Additionally, core T97-52. V preserves evidence of worm burrows detected by X-radiographic imagery as indicated by burrow-shaped deposits of iron oxide, indicating a shallow lake at the time of deposition of that material. Intermittently high lake levels between ~. 78. ka and ~. 72. ka developed at the same time as a weakened Asian monsoon and a pluvial phase in Northeast Brazil, suggesting a global reorganization of climate, possibly forced by a reduction in orbital eccentricity. Over the past 60. ka this core preserves the same events recorded in a core collected ~. 100. km away in the southern basin of Lake Tanganyika, including an unexplained increase in biogenic silica at ~. 37. ka, suggesting that this vast lake is responding coherently across both major bathymetric basins to regional and global climate forcing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-167
Number of pages13
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011


  • East Africa
  • Intertropical convergence zone
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • Paleolimnology
  • Quaternary
  • Rift lakes
  • Tropical paleoclimate
  • XRF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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