Linking surface and subsurface volcanic stratigraphy in the Turkana Depression of the East African Rift System

Nick Schofield* (Corresponding Author), Richard Newton, Scott Thackrey, Douglas Watson, David Jolley, Chris Morley

*Corresponding author for this work

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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The Northern Kenya Rift is an important natural laboratory for understanding continental rifting processes. However, much of the current understanding of its geological evolution is based on surface outcrops within footwall highs due to a lack of subsurface geological constraints. In this paper, we present an investigation of the Cenozoic stratigraphy and volcano-tectonic relationship of the volcanic sequences within the Turkana Depression (namely the North Lokichar, North Kerio and Turkana Basins). We integrate regional seismic reflection data collected as part of ongoing petroleum exploration in the area with lithological and biostratigraphic data from new wells that were drilled in 2014 and 2015 (Epir-1 and Emesek-1). This has allowed linking and extrapolation of the detailed stratigraphy of the paleontologically important Lothagam site to the volcanic sequences within the Napedet Hills, North Lokichar, North Kerio and Turkana Basins. The site of the Plio-Pleistocene-age Turkana Fault, which separates the North Lokichar Basin from the Turkana and North Kerio Basins, appears previously to have acted as a focus of Middle Miocene volcanism c. 5 Ma prior to the main period of movement on the fault. Our study highlights how subsurface and outcrop information can be combined to give a more in-depth knowledge of the magmatic history within rift basins.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberARTN jgs2020-110
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

The Kenyan JV (Tullow Oil, Africa Oil and Total) are thanked for allowing publication of this paper. Views expressed within this paper by authors are not necessarily the views of the Kenyan JV. Seismic and Well Interpretation was undertaken using Schlumberger Petrel and Techlog Software. ALS Petrophysics is acknowledged for thin section petrography of Epir-1 in Figure 7. Stuart Archer is thanked for discussions with regard to rift stratigraphy. We would like to thank Simon Holford and Craig Feibel for reviews which considerably helped improve this paper. Tyrone O. Rooney is thanked for editorial guidance. Dennis Wairimu and Francis Karanja are thanked for accompanying in the field. The Kapese Camp and Drivers are thanked for accommodating the fieldwork in a very professional manner. Mark Goodchild is thanked for facilitating fieldwork and research funding.

Funding: The Kenyan JV are thanked for providing research funding for the project.

Data Availability Statement

Data availability statement: The data used in this study came from the Kenya JV (Tullow, Total and Africa Oil). Restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under licence for the current study, and so are not publicly available.


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