Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Highlights—Goldilocks, Lucy, and Freshwater Limestones

Have you ever come home and found a blonde stranger sleeping in your just-right sized bed? The three bears did just that, and their intruder now has been immortalized in a recent paper by Ashley et al., who explore the conundrum of the occurrence freshwater limestones in arid rift basins. Documenting and interpreting the carbonate petrology in the context of well-documented geochronology and climate history of the East African Rift System reveals groundwater-fed limestone in wetlands, driven by precession-moderated cycles of precipitation, geologic structural controls (i.e., faults), playa flooding frequency and the general hydrology of the basin. These results implicate the multiple spatial and temporal controls on freshwater limestone, and illustrate how freshwater limestones require conditions have to be just right, i.e. the Goldilocks effect. Likewise, the interpretation of non-lacustrine carbonate suggests a new source of potable water for the early hominins of Olduvai Gorge.

Freshwater limestone in an arid rift basin: a Goldilocks effect by Gail M. Ashley, Carol B. de Wet, Manuel DomĂ­nguez-Rodrigo, Alyssa M. Karis, Theresa M. O’Reilly, and RoniDell Baluyot

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