Biogenic Activity, Trace Formation, and Trace Taphonomy in the Marginal Sediments of Saline, Alkaline Lake Bogoria, Kenya Rift Valley

Jennifer J. Scott, Robin W. Renaut, R. Bernhart Owen, William A. S. Sarjeant

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Actualistic studies of the distribution, formation, and taphonomy of vertebrate and invertebrate traces at saline (60-100 g l-1 TDS), alkaline (pH: 10.5) Lake Bogoria in the Kenya Rift Valley have revealed a diverse trace assemblage in the lake-margin sediments. Although hypersaline lakes like Lake Bogoria restrict lacustrine faunal diversity, local marginal subenvironments, including hot springs and ephemeral streams, provide favorable areas for the activities of many species of insects, mammals, birds, and reptiles. Several factors, including sediment texture and moisture content, substrate cohesion, substrate consolidation, and the presence of a food source (i.e., vegetation, microbes, animal waste, flamingo carcasses), control the distribution of traces at Lake Bogoria by influencing the behavior of vertebrates (e.g., "dirt bathing" and nest building) and invertebrates (mainly feeding and locomotion). The distribution of vertebrate traces is also controlled by the proximity to fresh water, but the relationship between invertebrate trace formation and porewater salinity is less clear. Many characteristic features of closed-basin lakes, including frequent changes in lake level and shoreline position, the presence of thermal springs, and evolved fluid compositions resulting from evaporation, can have direct impacts on trace taphonomy. Notable taphonomic factors include efflorescent salt crystallization, which may temporarily cement substrates or destroy traces during crystal growth in the capillary fringe; substrate wetting and drying, which can induce soil crusting and the shrinking and swelling of smectitic clays, which in turn can modify trace morphology; and the presence of benthic microbial mats and biofilms, which can temporarily stabilize substrates or contribute to their early cementation by mediating carbonate precipitation. Semiarid environments, such as the Kenya Rift, are favorable settings for the early cementation of substrates by carbonates (e.g., calcite), and, during prolonged, stable dry phases, the preservation of trace fossils and their substrates by zeolites and other minerals (Mn- and Fe- oxyhydroxides).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSediment–Organism Interactions
Subtitle of host publicationA Multifaceted Ichnology
EditorsRichard G. Bromley, Luis A. Buatois, Gabriela Mangano, Jorge F. Genise, Ricardo N. Melchor
PublisherSEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781565762909
ISBN (Print)9781565761292
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

Publication series

NameSEPM Special Publications
ISSN (Print)1060-071X

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


Dive into the research topics of 'Biogenic Activity, Trace Formation, and Trace Taphonomy in the Marginal Sediments of Saline, Alkaline Lake Bogoria, Kenya Rift Valley'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this