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Geology of East Africa

Series: Beiträge zur Regionalen Geologie der Erde Volume: 27

By: Thomas Schlüter (Author)

484 pages, 191 b/w illustrations, 15 tables

Gebrüder Borntraeger Verlag

Hardback | Dec 1997 | #69719 | ISBN: 3443110274
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NHBS Price: £99.99 $122/€112 approx

About this book

Geology of East Africa provides a concise account of the multi-faceted regional geology and stratigraphy of East Africa, that is Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Much of the data presented, however, is highly relevant to the surrounding countries and regions as well.

The contrasting landforms of East Africa, mountains on one side, plateaux, low plains, and rift valleys on the other, with deep fertile soils are reflected in its geology.

East Africa's geological features, from Precambrian basement, the paleontology and geology of the sedimentary series overlying it, to the structural evolution and volcanic history of the East Africa Rift System, are discussed in detail as are the metamorphic history e.g. of the Ubendian and Usgaran belts. A separate section presents the record of hominid evolution from the East African Rift System (Olduvai gorge). See the table of contents above for further details about topics covered.

Much of the progress since J.W. Gregory's groundbreaking account of the ``Great Rift Valley'' (1896) has not been comprehensively summarized since. The centennial of the publication of Gregory's book shaped the desire to provide both a textbook and at the same time an indispensable reference summarizing new scientific studies carried out since 1896.

Professionals and students, intending to delve into the details of the geological history of that region will appreciate the present volume as a stepping-stone, paving the way to additional studies of the numerous references given in Geology of East Africa.


"The Geology of East Africa is a bold attempt by Thomas Schlüter to "fill a vacuum". Although the region covered by the book represents one of the best studied parts of the African Continent, yet there has not been attempt to present the published information in a single volume. East Africa is one of the most fascinating part of the African Continent and perhaps in the world. It includes the "Great Rift Valley System", the "Great Lakes" such as Victoria, Tangayika and Malawi as well as volcanic peaks like mount Kenya, Elgon and Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa. Extensive lava plateaux and undulating plains of pre-historic fame such as the Serengeti plain are within this region. The book presents a comprehensive historical review of geological research in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda dating back to the early 20th century with the establishment of Geological Survey and Mining Departments in East Africa by the British Colonial Government and German Institutions. It summarises the essential knowledge of the Precambrian, Karoo, Mesozoic and Cenozoic rock formations with two valuable chapters by S. Hampton on the structural evolution of the East African Rift System and the Upper Phanerozoic volcanism related to the East African Rift System.

The Geological Survey Departments, during the colonial era, have produced excellent geological maps and reports. The maps were prepared on a scale of 1:120,000 or 1:100,000 and they still represent to a large extent the only published maps available for most of the areas described in the book. Foreign interest in the geology of this exciting region began during the late 19th century when Gustav Fischer mapped parts of the rift valley and Gregory published his book on The Rift Valleys and Geology of East Africa. Contributions by these pioneer geologists and their more recent successors are discussed in the volume or cited in the references.

Since the establishment of geology departments in Universities in Kampala, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, the number of geologists in East Africa have increased tremendously. This increase resulted in the rapid development of geological research and published articles in mostly foreign journals. One positive aspect of the book by Schlüter is the inclusion of the contributions of local experts to the knowledge of the geology of the region.

The volume includes a comprehensive bibliographic compilation which is definitely a useful "data bank" on the geology of East Africa. It is well printed and illustrated and contains a subject index, locality index and fossil index. One observation concerns the quality of the language expression which fortunately does not diminish the usefulness of the volume.

With the publication of The Geology of East Africa, Thomas Schlüter has once again demonstrated his love for Africa and African Geology. It is with pleasure that I recommend the volume as an indispensable introduction to all those that are interested in the geology of this exciting region."

– Prof. Cornelius A. Kogbe, Africa Geoscience Review January 1998


"East Africa is an area of remarkable geomorphological appeal. It contains the highest mountains in Africa, some of the world's largest lakes, extensive areas of current and past volcanic activity, magnificent rifts, and crucial evidence for climatic change and human evolution. Curiously, therefore, over one hundred years has passed since the last comprehensive attempt to summarize the geology of East Africa, undertaken by J. W. Gregory in 1896. Schlüter's magisterial overview is therefore very welcome, not least because it contains much material which will be of interest both to Quaternary scientists and to geomorphologists. That said it is fundamentally a survey of geology, with a great deal of stratigraphic and tectonostratigraphic material going back to the Precambrian and the Proterozoic. Nevertheless, not far short of half of the book deals with the history and development of the rift systems and associated volcanoes. Among the topics that will particularly appeal to geomorphologists are: sea level changes along the coast of the Indian Ocean, the physiography and faulting mechanics of the rifts, the ages and forms of the main types of volcano, and the nature of the sidements of the main lake basins. Given the large amount of work that has been done on these topics in recent years, and the new concepts that have arisen, particularly with regard to the evolution of rifts, this comprehensive survey is extremely timely. The only curious omission is that there is no real attempt to synthesise the work that has been done on Quaternary climatic changes, involving the analysis and interpretation of cores from lakes and swamps, such as those on the flanks of Mount Kenya.

This is a well illustrated book, with extensive referencing, and an impressive collection of indexes. It will for long be a fundamental resource for those concerned with one of the most remarkable geomorphological regions on the face of the Earth."

Z. Geomorph. 43,1 (1999)


"This is a welcome summary of the geology of a fascinating part of the world, comprising Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The author has published previously on the palaeontology, geology and economic geology of the region and is Professor in the Department of Geography, Environmental Science and Planning in the University of Swaziland. The area shows a wide variation in natural features, has high mountains and large lakes, but is perhaps best known for the East African Rift System, its attendant volcanic landforms and its cradling of the earliest human beings. Footprints preserved in volcanic ash at Laetoli, Tanzania, demonstrate that hominids were walking with an upright stance over three million years ago. The text is well illustrated in black and white but lacks an up-to-date reference map for the region. The author's English is occasionally unconventional but this is no impediment to enjoying his gathering of data from Archaean greenstones to Holocene evaporites of alkaline lakes. The book is aimed broadly at students, teachers, researchers and even
the interested lay person.

An introduction provides a useful geographical and historical background and tectonostratigraphic synopsis. German and British colonial interests gave rise to expioratory geology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the Gregory Rift was named aftera Scot who published a book on the rift system. Over fifty percent of the region is now covered by geological maps, but further publication has been in abeyance.

Geology and its economic aspects are described in stratigraphic order, with chapters on the Precambrian (underlying a great part of the reglon), Karoo (Late Carboniferous to Early Jurassic), Mesozolc and Cainozoic of coastal areas, and Cainozolc of the East African Rift System. There are two important chapters on the structural evolution of the rift system and associated volcanism written by Craig Hampton. Archaean rocks comprise greenstone, gneiss, granulite and charnockite of the Tanzania Craton and the Gneissic-Granulitic Complex of Uganda, and are surrounded by Proterozoic belts varying from complexly folded metasediments to little-disturbed sedimentary sequences with stromatolites and interspersed basaltic rocks. The Karoo includes tillites, coal, continental beds and volcanics, in places over 7000 m in total thickness. The coastal Mesozolc comprises marine strata marking the opening of the Indian Ocean. Description of the Tertiary includes the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.

There is much well-illustrated data (including geophysics) on the rift system, a complex of mainly normal dip-slip faults within the Afro-Arablan Rift System. The final chapter, on the Cenozoic of the East African Rift System, provides a review of fossil hominids and their
geographic and palaeontological environment."

AMF-Alert 1 (1) 1999

"The first summarising publication on the geology of East Africa, The Great Rift Valley (1896, J. Murray, London) was written by J.W. Gregory. During the last century, tremendous progress has been achieved in geology, palaeontology and sedimentology. However, until
now, a modern comprehensive presentation of the subject has not been available in a single volume. With this volume the author and publisher intend to provide a general textbook as well as a source of references for students, university teachers and interesting scientist
from various related disciplines and even for the interested layperson. The Geology of East Africa provides an account of the multi-faceted regional geology and stratigraphy of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, but much of the data presented is highly relevant to the surrounding regions as well.

For geologists, East Africa is an exciting area for scientific research Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda cover an area of more than 1.75 million square kilometres, including the highest mountains of Africa and some of the largest lakes on earth. Some areas are very arid,
others quite humid. Temperate highlands are close to hot savannas. A mosiac of rich and poor soils is found in many regions. East Africa's geological and tectonic features, from Precambrian basement, the palaeontology and geology of the sedimentary series overlying it, to the structural evolution and volcanic history of the great Rift System, are discussed in detail as are the metamorphic development, for example, of the Ubendian, Usgaran and Kibaran belts. A separate chapter presents the record of hominid evolution from the East African Rift System. The book is a compilation and explanation of the manifold of the geologic-tectonic landscapes of East Africa.

The book is divided into chapters following stratigraphic aspects (Precambrium, p. 15-141; Karoo, p. 142-199; Coastal Meso- and Cenozoic, p. 200- 264) and the importance of the East African Rift System (EARS) for all environmental investigations of the region (Structural Evolution of the EARS, p. 265-301; Upper Phanerozoic Volcanism Related to the EARS, p. 302-346; Cenozoic of the EARS, p. 347-410). Indexes of subjects, fossils and places and the 61 pages (!) with more than 1600 references allow the reader to get the
information he is looking for. The appeal of the book lies in its clear, thoughtful, and systematic presentation of the subject matter.

Schlüter's emphasis is to summarise the entire body of research on the geology of East Africa, considering the literature published in different languages (English, German, French) until 1995. Therefore, the book will be most valuable for all Quaternary and environmental
scientists interested in East Africa. The readers of Palaeoecology of Africa will appreciate the introductions to every region and every subject. Terms are defined and commented, and preferred usage is explained where necessary. Concepts are questioned as well as
explained, and popular misconceptions pointed out. This critical approach is refreshing and particularly valuable in a textbook like this, which should aim at fostering a critical attitude as well as knowledge. The readers of Palaeoecology of Africa also will appreciate
the condensed chapters of the Neogene in general and on the Cenozoic of the EARS presenting concise summaries of the sedimentation, the geomorphology, the environment, the biostratigraphy and the palaeontology. The various lakes and lake basins as well as places of interest like the Olduvai Gorge, the Koobi Fora region or the Laetoli site are dealt with in special chapters.

This book forms a substantial and important contribution to our knowledge of the East African geology and should be read by everyone active in the field of East African earth sciences, as well as environmental specialists in other fields."

– Prof. Dr. Klaus Heine, Palaeoecology of Africa, Vol. 26 (1999)


Preface V

1. Introduction (TH.SCHLÜTER) 1
1.1 Geographical Setting 1
1.2 Historical Review of Geological Research 2
1.3 Stratigraphic Approach 9
1.4 Tectonostratigraphic Synopsis 9

2. Precambrian (TH.SCHLÜTER) 15
2.1 Introduction 15
2.2 Archaean of the Tanzania Craton - the Dodoman, Nyanzian and Kavirondian Systems 19
2.21 Dodoman System (Schist Belt and Surrounding Granitoid Rocks) 21
2.211 Lithology and Structure 21
2.212 Origin 21
2.213 Geochronology 22
2.22 Nyanzian System 22
2.221 Lithology, Metamorphism and Structure 23
2.222 Genetic Aspects of Gold and Other Mineralisation 28
2.223 Geochronology 30
2.23 Kavirondian System 31
2.231 Kenya 31
2.232 Tanzania 32
2.233 Uganda 33
2.3 Meso- and Neoarchaean and Subsequent Proterozoic Evolution in Northern Uganda- the Basement or Gneissic-Granulitic Complex 33
2.31 Nomenclature 34
2.32 Lithology 34
2.33 Structure 35
2.34 Metamorphism 36
2.35 Subdivisions 37
2.36 Origin 39
2.37 Geochronology 39
2.38 Comparison and Stratigraphic Correlation with Neighbouring Areas 40
2.4 Palaeoproterozoic in Uganda - the Buganda-Toro System or Ruwenzori Fold Belt 40
2.41 Buganda Group of Central and Eastern Uganda 42
2.411 Lithology 42
2.412 Subdivisions 42
2.413 Structure 43
2.414 Geochronology 44
2.42 Toro Supergroup of Western Uganda 44
2.421 Relationship with the Buganda Group 44
2.422 Subdivisions and their Lithology 45
2.423 The Toro Supergroup in the Ruwenzori Mountains 45
2.424 Stratigraphy and Mineralization of the Kilembe Ore Body 48
2.425 Structure 52
2.426 Geochronology 53
2.5 Palaeoproterozoic in Tanzania - the Ubendian and Usagaran Belts 54
2.51 Ubendian Belt 54
2.511 Subdivisions and their Lithology 55
2.512 Metamorphism 57
2.513 Structure 57
2.514 Gold and Other Mineralization 58
2.515 Geochronology 60
2.52 Usagaran Belt (Including Ndembera Series) 61
2.521 Subdivisions 62
2.522 Metamorphism and Structural Deformation G4
2.523 Geochronology 65
2.524 Geotectonic Evolution 67
2.6 Mesoproterozoic of Tanzania and Uganda- the Kibaran Belt or Iaragwe Ankolean System 67
2.61 Extent and Subdivisions of the Kibaran Belt 69
2.611 Lithostratigraphy in Tanzania71
2.612 Nomenclature 73
2.613 Lithostratigraphy in Uganda 76
2.614 Key Areas77
2.62 Granitic Intrusions 79
2.621 Arenas 79
2.622 Syn- and Post-Orogenic Granites 81
2.623 The Term "Rheomorphism" as an Explanation Model . 83
2.63 Structural Setting 84
2.64 Metamorphism 86
2.65 Mineralization 86
2.651 Mineralization Syngenetic with the Iiaragwe Ankolean Sediments 87
2.652 Mineralization Associated with the Mafic/Ultramafic Intrusions 87
2.653 Mineralization Associated with the Tin Granites 87
2.66 Geochronology 92
2.67 Geotectonic Evolution 93
2.7 Tabular Neoproterozoic - the BuLoban System and Related Formations 95
2.71 Subdivisions and their Lithology 97
2.711 Tanzania 97
2.712 Kenya 104
2.713 Uganda 105
2.72 Palaeontology 109
2.73 Structure 110
2.74 Volcanism 110
2.75 Geochronology 111
2.8 Neoproterozoic of the Mozambique Belt in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda 111
2.81 Concepts and Persistent Controversies 114
2.82 Ophiolites 116
2.83 Regional Setting 117
2.831 Kenya 118
2.832 Tanzania 123
2.833 Uganda 129
2.84 Gemstone Mineralizations 131
2.85 Geochronology 136
2.86 Geotectonic Evolution and Palaeogeography 139

3. Karoo (TH. SCHLÜTER) 142
3.1 Introduction 142
3.2 Tanzania 143
3.21 Rubuhu Basin 145
3.211 K1: Basal Conglomerates or Idusi Formation 148
3.212 K2: Lower Coal Measures or Mchuchuma Formation . 150
3.213 K3 : Intermediate Sandstones and Mudstones or Mbuyura Formation 151
3.214 K4: Upper Coal Measures or Mhukuru Formation 153
3.215 K5: Ruhubu Beds or Rubuhu Formation 153
3.216 K6: Lower Bone Bed or Usili Formation 154
3.217 K7: Kingori Sandstone 155
3.218 K8: Upper Bone Bed or Manda Beds 155
3.22 Tukuyu and Rukwa Basins 156
3.23 Luwegu Basin (= Rufiji or Selous Basin) Including Ruvu, Mvuha, Mikumi and Nyakatitu Subbasins 158
3.231 Luwegu Basin Sensu Stricto 160
3.232 Ruvu and Mvuha Subbasins 167
3.233 Mikumi and Nyakatitu Subbasins 169
3.24 Tanga Basin 172
3.3 Iienya 174
3.31 Mombasa Basin 174
3.311 Taru Formation 175
3.312 Maji ya Chumvi Formation 177
3.313 Mariakani Formation 178
3.314 Matolani Formation 179
3.315 Mazeras Formation 179
3.32 Mandera Basin 180
3.321 Mansa Guda Formation 180
3.4 Uganda 182
3.41 Entebbe 183
3.42 Dagusi Island 184
3.43 Bugiri 185
3.5 Palaeontology 186
3.51 Stromatolites 186
3.52 Macroflora and Palynomorpha 186
3.53 Mollusca 188
3.54 Arthropoda 188
3.55 Vertebrata 189
3.6 Volcanism 190
3.7 Permo/Carboniferous Gondwana Glaciation 192
3.8 Structural Development 195
3.9 Hydrocarbon Exploration 198

4. Meso- and Cenozoic of Coastal East Africa (TH.SCHLÜTER) 200
4.1 Introduction 200
4.2 Jurassic 200
4.21 Tanzania 201
4.211 Lower Jurassic ? 202
4.212 Middle Jurassic 204
4.213 Middle and Upper Jurassic 207
4.214 Upper Jurassic 208
4.215 Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous 208
4.22 Kenya 213
4.221 Mandera Basin 213
4.222 Mombasa Basin 218
4.223 Central Kenya 220
4.23 Palaeontology 220
4.231 Macroflora and Palynomorpha 220
4.232 Invertebrates 221
4.233 Fauna and Palaenenvironment of Tendaguru 222
4.24 Structural Development and Plate Tectonics 223
4.25 Economic Aspects 225
4.3 Cretaceous 226
4.31 Tanzania 226
4.311 Lower Cretaceous 227
4.312 Upper Cretaceous 231
4.32 Kenya 234
4.321 Mandera Basin 234
4.322 Mombasa Basin 236
4.33 Palaeontology 237
4.331 Macroflora and Palynomorpha 237
4.332 Invertebrates 237
4.333 "Flysch"-Ichnocenosis of Kilwa 239
4.34 Structural Development 240
4.4 Tertiary 240
4.41 Mainland Tanzania 241
4.411 Paleogene 241
4.412 Neogene 242
4.42 Islands of Tanzania 245
4.421 Zanzibar 246
4.422 Pemba 248
4.423 Mafia 250
4.43 Iienya 253
4.431 Mandera Basin 253
4.432 Lamu Embayment 253
4.44 Palaeontology 255
4.45 Structural Development 256
4.46 Sea Level Changes 257
4.47 Economic Aspects 258
4.5 Quaternary 259
4.51 Tanzania 259
4.511 Pleistocene 259
4.512 Eustatic Sea Level Changes 261
4.52 Kenya 262
4.521 Coral Reef Complex 262
4.522 Pleistocene Sand Formations 262
4.523 Beach Sands 262
4.524 Sea Level Changes and Marine Terraces 263
4.53 Economic Aspects 264

5. Structural Evolution of the East African Rift System (EARS) (C. HAMPTON) 265
5.1 Introduction 265
5.2 Physiography 265
5.3 Nature of the Faulting 266
5.4 Fault Mechanisms 268
5.5 Geophysics 271
5.51 Seismicity of East Africa 271
5.52 Gravity Studies 278
5.53 Other Geophysical Studies 280
5.6 Extension and Stress 280
5.7 Basement Control of the EARS 283
5.8 Tectonic History of the EARS 287
5.81 Gregory Rift 287
5.811 Phase 1: Miocene Faulting 289
5.812 Phase 2: Late Miocene-Pliocene Faulting 289
5.813 Phase 3: Late Pliocene-Pleistocene Faulting 291
5.82 Western Rift 292
5.9 Mechanisms for Forming the EARS 294

6. Upper Phanerozoic Volcanism Related to the EARS (C. HAMPTON) 302
6.1 Introduction 302
6.2 Petrographic Provinces 302
6.3 Geomorphology of the Volcanoes 303
6.4 Uganda 303
6.41 Eastern Uganda 304
6.42 Age Determinations and Relations 307
6.43 Western Uganda 308
6.431 Fort Portal and Kaskere Field 309
6.432 Ndale Field 310
6.433 Central Fields of Katwe-Kikorongo and Bunyaruguru 310
6.434 Bufumbira Volcanic Field 311
6.44 Age Determinations and Relations 313
6.45 Hot Springs 313
6.5 Tanzania 313
6.51 Northern Volcanic Field 314
6.511 Older Volcanics 315
6.512 Younger Volcanics 316
6.52 Eastern Carbonatites 318
6.53 Western Carbonatites 319
6.54 Rungwe Volcanic Field and Southwestern Carbonatites 319
6.55 Kimberlites 322
6.56 Hot Springs 324
6.57 Age Determinations and Relations 325
6.6 Kenya 325
6.61 Petrology 327
6.62 Western Flank 328
6.621 Oligocene 328
6.622 Miocene 328
6.623 Late Miocene-Pliocene 331
6.624 Quaternary 332
6.63 Eastern Flank 333
6.631 Oligocene 333
6.632 Miocene 333
6.633 Pliocene 336
6.634 Quaternary 337
6.64 NIedian Rift 338
6.641 Turkana 338
6.642 Baringo 339
6.643 Nakuru-Naivasha 339
6.644 Magadi 342
6.65 I(avirondo Rift 343
6.66 Hot Springs and Fumaroles 345
6.67 Other Mesozoic-Cenozaic Igneous Rocks 345

7. Cenozoic of the East African Rift System (EARS) (TH. SCHLÜTER) 347
7.1 Sedimentation and Environment 347
7.11 Introduction 347
7.12 Gregory Rift 352
7.121 Lake Turkana Basin 352
7.122 Chalbi Basin 357
7.123 Suguta Basin 358
7.124 Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria Basins 359
7.125 Lake Naivasha-Elmenteita-Nakuru Basin 362
7.126 Lake Magadi-Lake Natron Basin 363
7.127 Lake Manyara Basin 369
7.128 Olduvai 371
7.129 Laetoli 374
7.1210 Lake Eyasi Basin 376
7.13 Western Rift 376
7.131 Lake Albert Basin 376
7.132 Lake Edward and Lake George Basins 378
7.133 Lake Tanganyika Basin 380
7.134 Lake Rukwa Basin 381
7.135 Lake Malawi (Nyasa) Basin 382
7.14 Lake Victoria Basin 383
7.141 Geological Setting 383
7.142 Lake Victoria 384
7.2 Biostratigraphy and Palaeontology 386
7.21 Mode of Fossilisation in the EARS 386
7.22 Stromatolites 388
7.23 Diatoms 390
7.24 Macroflora and Palynomorpha 391
7.25 Mollusca 392
7.26 Arthropoda 393
7.27 Vertebrata 394
7.271 Pisces 394
7.272 Amphibia and Reptilia 395
7.273 Aves 395
7.274 Mammalia (except Hominoidea) 396
7.275 Fossil Record of Hominoidea in the EARS 403
7.28 Trace Fossils 409

8. References 411

9. Subject Index 463

10. Index of Fossils 471

11. Localities Index 475

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