Nature Publishing Group, publisher of Nature, and other science journals and reference works
Nature
my account e-alerts subscribe register
   
Tuesday 25 July 2017
Journal Home
Current Issue
AOP
Archive
Download PDF
References
Export citation
Export references
Send to a friend
More articles like this

Letters to Nature
Nature 339, 44 - 46 (04 May 1989); doi:10.1038/339044a0

Late Quaternary palaeoclimatic oscillations in East Africa recorded by heavy minerals in the Nile delta

Alain Foucault* & Daniel Jean Stanley

*Laboratoire de Géologie, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, 75005 Paris, France
Mediterranean Basin Program, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 20560, USA

BECAUSE the Nile carries a load derived from markedly different geological terrains and climatic zones, it is expected that minera-logical study of deposits in its delta could help define changes in palaeoclimate affecting East Africa. Here we report measurements on heavy minerals in the Nile delta which can be used as distinct markers of climatic shifts over Africa during the late Pleistocene to Recent. Variations of heavy minerals in radiocarbon-dated cores collected in this delta1, the Nile's major depocentre2, correlate closely with oscillations in African palaeoclimate determined by other independent methods, such as studies of lake levels. These variations are largely a function of the characteristics of the Nile. It flows across nearly 35° of latitude, from south of the Equator to the Mediterranean (Fig. la), and conditions in its drainage basin, which includes central Africa, the Ethiopian plateau and eastern Sahara, range from a tropical, humid to a warm, arid climate. East African climatic belts migrated considerably during the Quaternary3–5, modifying Nile discharge and sediment load. Climatic oscillations have been recorded by changes of sediment yield and grain size along its course6,7 and by well defined depositional cycles8, including sapropels9, in the eastern Mediterranean.

------------------

References

1. Stanley, D. J. Science 240, 497−500 (1988).
2. Said, R. The Geological Evolution of the River Nile (Springer, New York, 1981).
3. Livingstone, D. A. A. Rev. Ecol. Systematics 6, 249−280 (1975).
4. Williams, M. A. J. & Faure, H. (eds) The Sahara and The Nile: Quaternary Environments and Prehistoric Occupation in Northern Africa (Balkema, Rotterdam, 1980).
5. Hamilton, A. Environmental History of East Africa. A Study of the Quaternary (Academic, London, 1982).
6. Williams, M. A. J. & Adamson, D. A. in The Sahara and The Nile: Quaternary Environments and Prehistoric Occupation in Northern Africa. (eds Williams, M. A. J. & Faure, H.) 281−304 (Balkema, Rotterdam, 1980).
7. Adamson, D. A., Gasse, F., Street, F. A. & Williams, M. A. J. Nature 288, 50−55 (1980). | Article | ISI |
8. Stanley, D. J. & Maldonado, A. Nature 266, 129−135 (1977). | Article | ISI |
9. Rossignol-Strick, M., Nesteroff, W., Olive, P. & Vergnaud-Grazzini, C. Nature 295, 105−110 (1982). | Article |
10. Hurst, H. E. The Nile: A General Account of the River and the Utilization of its Waters 2nd edn (Constable, London, 1957).
11. Shukri, N. M. Q. J. geol. Soc. Lond. 105, 511−534 (1950).
12. Griffiths, J. F. (ed.) Climates of Africa: World Survey of Climatology Vol. 10 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1972).
13. Van Chi-Bonnardel, R. The Atlas of Africa (The Free Press, New York, 1973).
14. UNESCO Tectonics of Africa (UNESCO, Paris, 1971).
15. Pettijohn, F. J. Sedimentary Rocks 2nd edn (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1957).
16. Hassan, F. A. Quat. Res. 6, 425−443 (1976). | Article | ISI |
17. Coutellier, V. & Stanley, D. J. Mar Geol. 77, 257−275 (1987). | Article |
18. Hilmy, M. E. J. sedim. Petrol. 21 (2) 109−120 (1951). | ChemPort |
19. Stanley, D. J., Sheng, H. & Pan, Y. J. Afr. Earth Sci. 7, 735−741 (1988). | Article | ChemPort |
20. El Askary, M. A. & Frihy, O. E. Bull. Fac. Sci. Alexandria Univ. (in the press).
21. Livingstone, D. A. in The Sahara and The Nile: Quaternary Environments and Prehistoric Occupation in Northern Africa. (eds Williams, M. A. J. & Faure, H.) 339−359 (Balkema, Rotterdam, 1980).
22. Bonnefille, R. & Riollet, G. Quat. Res. 30, 19−35 (1988). | Article | ChemPort |
23. Gasse, F. Nature 265, 42−45 (1977). | Article | ISI |
24. Gasse, F. & Street, F. A. Palaeogeog. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 34, 279−325 (1978).
25. Servant, M. & Servant-Vildary, S. in The Sahara and The Nile: Quaternary Environments and Prehistoric Occupation in Northern Aftrica. (eds Williams, M. A. J. & Faure, H.) 133−162 (Balkema, Rotterdam, 1980).



© 1989 Nature Publishing Group
Privacy Policy