Revisiting afro-alpine Lake Garba Guracha in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia: Rationale, chronology, geochemistry, and paleoenvironmental implications

Lucas Bittner, M Bliedtner, David Anton Ieuan Grady, Graciela Gil Romera, Catherine Mariel Martin-Jones, Bruk Lemma, Betelhem Mekonnen, Henry Lamb, H Yang, Bruno Glaser, S Szidat, G. Salazar, Neil Rose, Lars Opgenoorth, Georg Miehe, Wolfgang Zech, Michael Zech

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Abstract

Previous paleolimnological studies demonstrated that the sediments of Garba Guracha, situated at 3950 m asl in the afro-alpine zone of the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia, provide a complete Late Glacial and Holocene paleoclimate and environmental archive. We revisited Garba Guracha in order to retrieve new sediment cores and to apply new environmental proxies, e.g. charcoal, diatoms, biomarkers, and stable isotopes. Our chronology is established using 210Pb dating and radiocarbon dating of bulk sedimentary organic matter, bulk n-alkanes, and charcoal. Although bedrock was not reached during coring, basal ages confirm that sedimentation started at the earliest ~ 16 cal kyr BP. The absence of a systematic age offset for the n-alkanes suggests that “pre-aging” is not a prominent issue in this lake, which is characterised by a very small afro-alpine catchment. X-ray fluorescence scans and total organic carbon contents show a prominent transition from minerogenic to organic-rich sediments around 11 cal kyr BP coinciding with the Holocene onset. While an unambiguous terrestrial versus aquatic source identification seems challenging, the n-alkane-based Paq proxy, TOC/N ratios, δ13C values, and the sugar biomarker patterns suggest a predominantly autochthonous organic matter source. Supraregional climate events, such as the African Humid Period, the Younger Dryas (YD), a 6.5 cal kyr BP short drying event, and the 4.2 cal kyr BP transition to overall drier climate are recorded in our archive. The Garba Guracha record suggests that northern hemisphere forcings played a role in the Eastern African highland paleoclimate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-314
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Volume64
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Afro-alpine
  • Biomarkers
  • Paleolimnology
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Sedimentation rate
  • XRF scanning

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