EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Variable Hydroclimate in the Suguta-Turkana Valley, Kenya during the Early Middle-Pleistocene Transition

Elena Robakiewicz1,2, R. Bernhardt Owen3, Alan Deino4, Martin Trauth5, and Annett Junginger6
Elena Robakiewicz et al.
  • 1Geosciences, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany (
  • 2Earth Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA (
  • 3Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
  • 4Berkeley Geochronology Center, Berkeley, USA
  • 5Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • 6Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment (S-HEP), Tuebingen, Germany

The Early Mid-Pleistocene Transition (EMPT) between 1,200–700 ka represents a major global climate transition from dominantly 41,000-year to 100,000-year glacial cycles. The forces and mechanisms behind this transition, and the response of African environments, is not well understood. The active volcanism and tectonics of the East African Rift System (EARS) add complexity to environmental systems and can erase important proxy records, inhibiting studies of lacustrine dynamics. As a result, there is minimal understanding of how this transition impacted the region’s lake systems, with implications for hominin migration. At paleolake Suguta in the northern Kenya Rift, however, flood basalts cap lacustrine EMPT-aged deposits and help preserve these strata and their valuable paleoenvironmental record. This research presents a high-resolution reconstruction of hydrological change from approximately 930 to 830 ka during the EMPT at the Suguta-Turkana Valley in the northern Kenya Rift. Paleolake dynamics are reconstructed from a 41 m sedimentary section using diatom morphology, sedimentology, and x-ray fluorescence analysis. Lake levels varied during the EMPT, particularly from ~885–830 ka, ranging from deep stratified lakes, shallow, well-mixed lakes, and complete desiccation. This record identifies hydroclimate variability at several thousand year-resolution within the Suguta-Turkana Valley during the EMPT, illuminating a period where generally little is known about terrestrial environmental change.

How to cite: Robakiewicz, E., Owen, R. B., Deino, A., Trauth, M., and Junginger, A.: Variable Hydroclimate in the Suguta-Turkana Valley, Kenya during the Early Middle-Pleistocene Transition, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14071,, 2023.