IPG: Collaborative Research: A high-resolution analysis of unique paleoenvironmental data from key hominin sites in East Africa

Project: Research project

Project Details


The possibility of a causative relationship between human evolution in Africa and Earth system history has been an important question at the forefront of paleoanthropological research in the last 25 years. One fundamental question is can any of the Earth system drivers be characterized with sufficient precision to enable correlation with hominin evolution and their identification as evolutionary causal factors? We propose to analyze climate and other Earth system dynamics with a unique combination of paleoanthropologists and earth scientists to provide direct tests of these various hypotheses by collecting and analyzing unique paleoenvironmental data at three key anthropological sites in Africa. We propose to collect continuous paleoenvironmental records by drilling long cores from ancient lake beds in the northern Afar, Ethiopia (~3.8-2.9 Ma), the Baringo Basin, Kenya (~3.2-2.35 Ma), and the Turkana Basin, Kenya (~2.3-1.42 Ma), and correlate these records to the outcrops in the same basins that contain hominin and other mammalian fossils, as well as artifacts in the younger time periods. Funding for the drilling costs for this project has been secured from other sources: here we request funds to analyze the records those cores will provide and place those records into a paleoanthropological context. The sediment cores will provide high-resolution (centennial-millennial scale) paleoenvironmental records that can be correlated with previously collected fossils and artifacts from outcrops using tephrostratigraphy, paleomagnetism and other geochronological techniques. Geochemical analyses of these cores will supply relevant data about climate change utilizing TEX86 and clumped isotope paleothermometry, as well as other geochemical and lithologic archives that record various aspects of the paleoclimate system. Geochemical analyses will be complemented by the paleoecological analyses of pollen, charcoal, diatoms, ostracodes and other biological materials, that collectively provide a record of wate
Effective start/end date10/1/123/31/17


  • NSF-ENG: Division of Biological & Critical Systems (BCS): $117,251.00


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