Constraints on Fe-Oxide Formation in Monsoonal Vertisols of Pliocene Kenya Using Rock Magnetism and Spectroscopy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Pliocene Vertisols from the Turkana Basin of northwest Kenya (~4°N latitude) have been examined using isothermal remanent magnetization (IRM) experiments, susceptibility measurements, and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. The complete vertical profile of each paleosol is almost intact, measuring >2 m in thickness and being strongly magnetic (IRM at 1.0T ranges from 4 to 25 × 10−3 Am2/kg). Downprofile changes to the proxy indicators suggest uninterrupted pedodevelopment and a lack of stratigraphic inversions caused by argilli-pedoturbation. Magnetic minerals consist of hematite to a lesser degree, and pedogenic ferrimagnets derived from moisture cycles that were controlled by monsoonal rainfall. Basal pedogenic zones of the paleosols are magnetically intense, and preserve the greatest slickenside development indicating pronounced seasonal wetting and drying. These observations indicate a deeper dry season water table as compared to poorly drained temperate/tropical Vertisols, which suffer reductive dissolution of Fe oxides in basal pedogenic horizons associated with weak magnetic intensities. Magnetic susceptibilities and the well-represented presence of fine pedogenic ferrimagnets suggest that Pliocene rainfall was greater than the local modern rate of 200 mm/year and may have been within the range of 500–1,000 mm/year. The study highlights the need to expand the database on Vertisols Fe oxides and magnetism, especially considering the anomalously dry and bimodal rainfall seasonality of East Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4998-5013
Number of pages16
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • magnetism
  • monsoon
  • paleoclimate
  • paleosol
  • spectroscopy
  • Vertisol

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