EGU21-4392, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Monitoring mineral precipitation sequence of Lake Magadi soda lake: A multi-technical approach

Melese Getenet1, Juan Manuel García-Ruiz1, Franziska Emmerling2, Dominik Al-Sabbagh2, Fermín Otálora1, and Cristóbal Verdugo-Escamilla1
Melese Getenet et al.
  • 1Laboratorio de Estudios Cristalográficos, Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas–Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain
  • 2BAM Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing, Berlin, Germany

Lake Magadi is a saline soda lake in East African Rift Valley, occupying the axial trough of Southern Kenyan Rift. Its fed by perennial saline hot/warm springs, which evolve into the soda and saline chemistry of the lake. The main processes thought to cause the enrichment of the lake in Na+, CO32-, Cl-, HCO3- and SO42- are evaporative concentration, mineral precipitation and fractional dissolution [1]. Lake Magadi is considered an analogous environment to the early Earth [2]. The high pH, silica and carbonate content of Lake Magadi allows the formation of silica and carbonate induced self-assembled mineral structures [3,4]. Revealing the mineral precipitation sequence of Lake Magadi have implications in understanding the geochemistry of evaporative rift settings and soda oceans. We have experimentally investigated the mineral precipitation sequence during evaporation at 25 °C. The sequence of mineral precipitation was recorded by using in-situ video microscopy. The mineral patterns observed in video microscopies were identified by spectroscopic, diffraction and electron microscopy techniques. The mineralogy and elemental composition of the precipitates were determined by using Raman spectroscopy, powder X-ray diffractions and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray analyser. The results of the ex-situ analyses were compared with the in-situ X-ray diffraction. In-situ X-ray diffractions were performed on acoustically levitated droplets in the μSpot beamline at BESSY II synchrotron (Berlin, Germany). Finally, thermodynamic evaporation simulation was performed by using PHREEQC code with Pitzer database. Ex-situ and in-situ experiments revealed that mineral precipitation begins with trona, followed by halite and finally thermonatrite. In PHREEQC simulations, natron was observed instead of thermonatrite, suggesting the role of kinetics in the mineral assemblages. This multi-technical approach of in-situ monitoring and ex-situ characterization is a powerful approach to unveil mineral precipitation patterns and the resulting geochemical evolution in evaporative rift settings.

Acknowledgments: We acknowledge funding from the European Research Council under grant agreement no. 340863, from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad of Spain through the project CGL2016-78971-P and Junta de Andalucía for financing the project P18-FR-5008. M.G. acknowledges Grant No. BES-2017-081105 of the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovacion y Universidades of the Spanish government.


[1] Eugster, H.P. (1970). Chemistry and origin of the brines of Lake Magadi, Kenya. Mineralogical Society of America Special Papers, 3, 213–235.

[2] Kempe, S.; Degens, E.T. (1985). An early soda ocean?. Chem. Geol.  53, 95–108

[3] Getenet, M.; García-Ruiz, J.M.; Verdugo-Escamilla, C.; Guerra-Tschuschke, I (2020). Mineral Vesicles and Chemical Gardens from Carbonate-Rich Alkaline Brines of Lake Magadi, Kenya, Crystals, 10, 467.

[4] García-Ruiz J.M., van Zuilen M.A., Bach W. (2020) Mineral self-organization on a lifeless planet. Phys Life Rev, 34–35,62–82

How to cite: Getenet, M., García-Ruiz, J. M., Emmerling, F., Al-Sabbagh, D., Otálora, F., and Verdugo-Escamilla, C.: Monitoring mineral precipitation sequence of Lake Magadi soda lake: A multi-technical approach, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4392,, 2021.

Corresponding presentation materials formerly uploaded have been withdrawn.