Preservation and paleoenvironmental significance of a footprinted surface on the sandai plain, Lake Bogoria, Kenya Rift valley

Jennifer J. Scott*, Robin W. Renaut, R Bernhart OWEN

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    An exhumed late Pleistocene land surface on the deltaic Sandai Plain north of Lake Bogoria, Kenya, preserves traces of bovids, suids, birds, and at least one hominid. The host sediments (Loboi Silts) are reddish brown, poorly bedded siltstones, mudstones and silty sandstones that were probably deposited in a shallow closed-basin lake. Most of the prints were impressed on exposed, moist lake-marginal mudflats. Print distribution is patchy due to a complex interaction between biogenic and sedimentological factors. The preservation of a single hominid track provides a fortuitous addition to the sparse hominid track record in East Africa. Field, petrographic, and mineralogical analyses of the fossil substrate were undertaken to determine how the footprinted surface was preserved. Comparison with modern lake-marginal processes suggests that the prints were initially stabilized by desiccation, soil-crusting, and organic films, followed by cementation of the surface sediments by calcite and analcime, with minor authigenic clay minerals and Fe-Mn-oxihydroxides. The zeolites formed by reaction of detrital silicates with saline, alkaline groundwater; calcite was precipitated from dilute runoff and fresher groundwaters. Cementation likely occurred during a prolonged period of relatively low, stable lake level. Following cementation, the surface was buried by Holocene lake sediments, then recently exhumed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)208-231
    Number of pages24
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Palaeontology

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Diagenesis
    • Hominids
    • Kenya Rift
    • Paleoichnology
    • Taphonomy
    • Vertebrate tracks


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