The Hominin Sites and Palaeolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP): Collecting palaeolake drill cores from the East African Rift Valley to document the environmental context of human origins

Citation:
Olago D, Cohen A, Campisano C, Arrowsmith R, Asrat A, Deino A, Feibel C. "The Hominin Sites and Palaeolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP): Collecting palaeolake drill cores from the East African Rift Valley to document the environmental context of human origins." Quaternary International. 2016;(404):206-207.

Abstract:

The influence of climate and environmental history on human evolution is an existential question that continues to
be hotly debated, in part because of the paucity of high resolution records collected in close proximity to the key
fossil and archaeological evidence. To address this issue and transform the scientific debate, the HSPDP was devel-
oped to collect lacustrine sediment drill cores from basins in Kenya and Ethiopia that collectively encompass crit-
ical time intervals and locations for Plio-Quaternary human evolution in East Africa. After a 17 month campaign,
drilling was completed in November, 2014, with over 1750m of core collected from 11 boreholes from five areas
(1930m total drilling length, avg. 91% recovery). The sites, from oldest to youngest, include 1) N. Awash, Ethiopia
(

3.5-2.9Ma core interval); 2) Baringo-Tugen Hills, Kenya (

3.3-2.5Ma); 3) West Turkana, Kenya (

1.9-1.4Ma);
L. Magadi, Kenya (0.8-0Ma) and the Chew Bahir Basin, Ethiopia (

0.5-0Ma). Initial core description (ICD) and
sampling for geochronology, geochemistry and paleoecology studies had been completed by mid2014, with the
two remaining sites (Magadi and Chew Bahir) scheduled for ICD work in early 2015. Whereas the primary scien-
tific targets were the lacustrine deposits from the hominin-bearing basin depocenters, many intervals of paleosols
(representative of low lake stands and probable arid periods) were also encountered in drill cores. Preliminary anal-
yses of drill core sedimentology and geochemistry show both long-term lake level changes and cyclic variability in
lake levels, both of which may be indicative of climatic forcing events of interest to paleoanthropologists. Authors
of this abstract also include the entire HSPDP field team

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