Palaeogeographic and lake-level reconstructions provide powerful tools for evaluating competing scenarios of biotic, climatic and geological evolution within a lake basin. Here we present new reconstructions for the northern Lake Tanganyika subbasins, based on reflection seismic, core and outcrop data. Reflection seismic radiocarbon method (RSRM) age estimates provide a chronological model for these reconstructions, against which yet to be obtained age dates based on core samples can be compared. A complex history of hydrological connections and changes in shoreline configuration in northern Lake Tanganyika has resulted from a combination of volcanic doming, border fault evolution and climatically induced lake-level fluctuations. The stratigraphic expression of lake-level highstands and lowstands in Lake Tanganyika is predictable and cyclic (referred to here as Capart Cycles), but in a pattern that differs profoundly from the classic Van Houten cycles of some Newark Supergroup rift basins. This difference results from the extraordinary topographic relief of the Western Rift lakes, coupled with the rapidity of large-scale lake-level fluctuations. Major unconformity surfaces associated with Lake Tanganyika lowstands may have corresponded with high-latitude glacial maxima throughout much of the mid- to late Pleistocene. Rocky shorelines along the eastern side of the present-day Ubwari Peninsula (Zaire) appear to have had a much more continuous existence as littoral rock habitats than similar areas along the north-western coastline of the lake (adjacent to the Uvira Border Fault System), which in turn are older than the rocky shorelines of the north-east coast of Burundi. This model of palaeogeographic history will be of great help to biologists trying to clarify the evolution of endemic invertebrates and fish in the northern basin of Lake Tanganyika.
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