A cryptotephra record from the Lake Victoria sediment core record of holocene palaeoenvironmental change

Christine S. Lane, Catherine M. Martin-Jones, Thomas C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The sediment record from Lake Victoria is an important archive of regional environmental and climatic conditions, reaching back more than 15,000 cal. years before present (15 ka BP). As the largest lake by area in East Africa, its evolution is key to understanding regional palaeohydrological change during the late Pleistocene and Holocene, including controls on the Nile River flow. As well as important palaeoenvironmental proxies, the lake contains a unique record of explosive volcanism from the central Kenyan Rift, in the form of fine-grained volcanic ash (tephra) layers, interpreted as airfall deposits. In the V95-1P core, collected from the central northern basin of the lake, tephra layers vary in concentration from 10s to 10s of 1000s of glass shards per gram of sediment. None of the tephra are visible to the naked eye, and have only been revealed through careful laboratory processing. Compositional analyses of tephra glass shards has allowed the tephra layers to be correlated to previously unrecognized eruptions of Eburru volcano around 1.2 and 3.8 ka, and Olkaria volcano, prior to 15 ka. These volcanoes lie ~300 km east of the core site in the Kenyan Rift. Our results highlight the potential for developing cryptotephra analysis as a key tool in East African palaeolimnological research. Tephra layers offer opportunities for precise correlation of palaeoenvironmental sequences, as well as windows into the eruption frequency of regional volcanoes and the dispersal of volcanic ash.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1909-1917
Number of pages9
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Cryptotephra research was funded as part of a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship to CL (2012-2015).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Central kenyan rift
  • Cryptotephra
  • Holocene palaeoenvironment
  • Tephra
  • Volcanism

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