Stratigraphic Correlation in the Afar Depression, Ethiopia

Prof. Beverly Saylor and Josh Angelini traveled to Ethiopia to determine stratigraphic relationships between sites bearing fossils of human ancestors.

Prof. Saylor and Josh measured stratigraphic sections, inspected aerial photos and satellite imagery, mapped formations using differential GPS, and took samples for geochemical analysis in the ongoing effort to sort out the complex stratigraphy of the study area. Dr. Mulugeta Alene, a structural geologist at Addis Ababa University joined them in the field to help in the identification of faults and other structural features of this region, which has a complex tectonic and volcanic history. During this field season, the geologists focused on correlating several sites by means of volcanic tuffs, which are important not only for correlation but for radiometric dating as well. Many samples were taken, the analysis of which will provide evidence toward the confirmation or rejection of correlative hypotheses posited in the field.