A detrital record of the Nile River and its catchment

Laura Fielding, Yani Najman*, Ian Millar, Peter Butterworth, Sergio Ando, Marta Padoan, Dan Barfod, Ben Kneller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
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This research uses analyses from Nile catchment rivers, wadis, dunes and bedrocks to constrain the geological history of NE Africa and document influences on the composition of sediment reaching the Nile delta. Our data show evolution of the North African crust, highlighting phases in the development of the Arabian-Nubian Shield and amalgamation of Gondwana in Neoproterozoic times. The Saharan Metacraton and Congo Craton in Uganda have a common history of crustal growth, with new crust formation at 3.0-3.5 Ga, and crustal melting at c. 2.7 Ga. The Hammamat Formation of the Arabian-Nubian Shield is locally derived and has a maximum depositional age of 635 Ma. By contrast, Phanerozoic sedimentary rocks are derived from more distant sources. The fine-grained (mud) bulk signature of the modern Nile is dominated by input from the Ethiopian Highlands, transported by the Blue Nile and Atbara rivers. Detrital zircons in the Nile trunk are predominantly derived from Phanerozoic cover rocks. Most detritus from the upstream White Nile is trapped in the Sudd marshes and contributes little to the Nile trunk. Therefore, the White Nile downstream is dominated by locally derived Phanerozoic cover. The White Nile proximal to the Gezira Fan is influenced by the fan’s Blue Nile signature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-317
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements and Funding
This work was funded by an NERC Open CASE PhD studentship award NE/I018433/1, BP Egypt and awards from the NERC Isotope Geoscience Facilities Steering Committee (IP-1248-0511, IP-1299-0512). We gratefully acknowledge the expertise of F. Darius at the Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany, and M. Abo Elwfa Muhammad for our Egyptian fieldwork, T. Berhanu of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, and M. Ibrahim and family, along with our guides Midhat and Moez in Sudan. At NIGL, we thank C. Stewart, V. Pashley and N. Roberts for valuable laboratory assistance. This paper benefited from careful reviews by W. Bosworth and R. Stern.


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