GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 111-7
Presentation Time: 9:40 AM


RAYNOLDS, Robert G., Department of Earth Sciences, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205,

Over 50 years of effort have gone into gathering data on the geology and paleontology of the Turkana Basin, Kenya. Today we are in the wonderful position of being able to integrate the labor of many to help answer questions that still remain about the evolution of the basin and its inhabitants. By compiling, redrafting, and integrating data sets we can provide researchers with new perspectives on the distribution of strata through time and space to allow for focused field efforts to gather targeted data addressing specific hypotheses.

Compilations of data in the Koobi Fora area show dramatic changes in rates of sediment accumulation. For example rates of about 20 cm/1000 years are typical along the Kerari Escarpment. These jump abruptly to over 120 cm/1000 years across an unrecognized normal fault downthrown towards the west in Area 100 that moved synchronously with sedimentation (a growth fault). The Burgi Unconformity can be shown to represent a gap in sediment preservation of about 1.2 MY above the Tulu Bor Tuff. It is possible that this unconformity is a result of footwall uplift across the Area 100 growth fault.

Compilation of geologic maps tied to Frank Brown and Ian McDougall’s tuff chronology work allows the creation of time maps. These can be further rendered into time/facies maps to enhance paleontological and archeological field efforts by prioritizing field work in the time intervals and facies regimes of interest for finding given faunal elements or hominid settlement sites.

Data sets like these can be readily shared on universally accessible Google Earth – based display platforms. A prototype has been set up for the Turkana Basin using servers at Arizona State University. This tool has been tested with students and incorporated into the geology curriculum of Stony Brook University’s Turkana Basin Institute’s field program.