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Water-level fluctuations of Lake Tanganyika in phase with oceanic changes during the last glaciation and deglaciation


THERE has been considerable controversy about the magnitude of fluctuations of the levels of Lake Tanganyika, the Earth's second deepest lake (1,470 m), following the discovery of submerged valleys extending down to 550 m below present lake levels1. These fluctuations register changes in the precipitation/(evaporation + evapotranspiration) ratio in a large equatorial–tropical area of catchment, south of the Equator. Here we report new palaeohydrological data, back to 40 kyr BP, from carbon dating of the total organic matter in two diatomaceous cores. The results constrain the vertical lake level fluctuations more than has hitherto been possible2–5 and show that the fluctuations from 26 kyr BP are correlated with changes in global sea level and ice volume. Surpris-ingly fluctuations seem to be in phase with those of the African lakes north of the Equator, which are clearly linked to the Milankovitch mechanisms.

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Gasse, F., Lédée, V., Massault, M. et al. Water-level fluctuations of Lake Tanganyika in phase with oceanic changes during the last glaciation and deglaciation. Nature 342, 57–59 (1989).

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