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Geochronology of the pre-KBS Tuff sequence, Omo Group, Turkana Basin

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posted on 2016-06-21, 12:09 authored by IAN McDOUGALL, FRANCIS H. BROWN

The Omo–Turkana Basin of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia developed in the northern Kenya Rift about 4.3 Ma ago in the Early Pliocene. Nearly 800 m of sediments, included within the Omo Group, crop out in the basin. Numerous rhyolitic tuffs in the sequence not only have facilitated secure correlations between the formations of the Omo Group but also have provided material for precise 40Ar/39Ar age measurements. Here we report ages on alkali feldspar crystals from pumice clasts within tuffs in the lower part of the Omo Group up to the level of the KBS Tuff, which has previously been dated at 1.87 ± 0.02 Ma. The results from 17 stratigraphic levels encompassing the 2.4 Ma time interval from the base of the group to the KBS Tuff provide a numerical time framework for the geological history of the lower part of the Pliocene sequence. The new ages, which have a precision of the order of 1%, are all consistent with the stratigraphic order, providing confidence that they accurately record the ages of the volcanic eruptions, with deposition of the tuffs and pumices occurring shortly thereafter.