New single crystal 40Ar/39Ar ages improve time scale for deposition of the Omo Group, Omo–Turkana Basin, East Africa
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Six tuffaceous beds within the Omo Group of the Omo–Turkana Basin have been dated using the 40Ar/39Ar single crystal total fusion method on anorthoclase, yielding eruption ages. The Omo Group constitutes up to 800 m of subaerially exposed sediments surrounding Lake Turkana within the East African Rift system in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. Rhyolitic explosive eruptions produced tuffs and pumice clasts that are considered to have been deposited shortly after eruption. The new age data on feldspars from the pumice clasts range from 4.02 ± 0.04 Ma for the Naibar Tuff of the Koobi Fora Formation to 1.53 ± 0.02 Ma for Tuff K of the Shungura Formation. The Orange Tuff in the KBS Member of the Koobi Fora Formation was dated at 1.76 ± 0.03 Ma, providing good control in this part of the sequence where formerly there was a >200 ka gap. Data are consistent with earlier measurements and significantly improve age resolution within the Omo Group, which has yielded many vertebrate fossils, including hominin fossils comprising a number of species. We suggest new age estimates for a limited number of hominin specimens.