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East African weathering dynamics controlled by vegetation-climate feedbacks

September 5, 2017

Tropical weathering has important linkages to global biogeochemistry and landscape evolution in the East African rift. We disentangle the influences of climate and terrestrial vegetation on chemical weathering intensity and erosion at Lake Malawi using a long sediment record. Fossil pollen, microcharcoal, particle size, and mineralogy data affirm that the detrital clays accumulating in deep water within the lake are controlled by feedbacks between climate and hinterland forest composition. Particle-size patterns are also best explained by vegetation, through feedbacks with lake levels, wildfires, and erosion. We develop a new source-to-sink framework that links lacustrine sedimentation to hinterland vegetation in tropical rifts. Our analysis suggests that climate-vegetation interactions and their coupling to weathering/erosion could threaten future food security and has implications for accurately predicting petroleum play elements in continental rift basins.

Publication Year 2017
Title East African weathering dynamics controlled by vegetation-climate feedbacks
DOI 10.1130/G38938.1
Authors Sarah J. Ivory, Michael M. McGlue, Geoffrey S. Ellis, Adam Boehlke, Anne-Marie Lézine, Annie Vincens, Andrew S. Cohen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geology
Index ID 70190509
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center