Late Pleistocene–;Holocene Evolution of the Kivu–Tanganyika Basin

  1. Albert Matter and
  2. Maurice E. Tucker
  1. Peter Stoffers1 and
  2. R. E. Hecky2

Published Online: 29 JUN 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444303698.ch3

Modern and Ancient Lake Sediments

Modern and Ancient Lake Sediments

How to Cite

Stoffers, P. and Hecky, R. E. (1978) Late Pleistocene–;Holocene Evolution of the Kivu–Tanganyika Basin, in Modern and Ancient Lake Sediments (eds A. Matter and M. E. Tucker), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444303698.ch3

Author Information

  1. 1

    Institut für Sedimentforschung, Postfach 103020, 6900 Heidelberg 1, Germany

  2. 2

    Freshwater Institute, 501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N6, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 29 JUN 2009
  2. Published Print: 24 NOV 1978

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632002344

Online ISBN: 9781444303698



  • Lake Tanganyika is thermally stratified with perennial thermocline;
  • biostratigraphy of Lake Kivu is based on siliceous microfossils;
  • changing diatom population;
  • Sedimentary pyrite and organic carbon concentrations increased;
  • a deep source of denser spring water;
  • surface waters must be constantly diluted by runoff and loss of salts at the outflow;
  • interaction of climate and geology in determining hydrochemistry and sedimentation


The available stratigraphic records of Lakes Kivu and Tanganyika are rich in microfossils, especially diatoms, and distinctive mineral assemblages which can be interpreted in terms of the salinities, redox conditions and trophic status of the lakes. Prior to 13,000 years B.P. both lakes were closed basins because of the much drier climate at that time. With the onset of more moist conditions in the Early Holocene, Lake Kivu overflowed into Tanganyika via the Ruzizi River. Since then, both lakes have responded to the changing climate and volcanic events in the Kivu Basin.

The crenogenic meromixis which is the unique limnological feature of modern Lake Kivu was set up at least twice in the past 5000 years and was obliterated between approximately 4000 years B.P. and 2000 years B.P. Volcanic events in the Kivu Basin were almost certainly involved in the initiation of meromixis at 5000 years B.P. and were likely involved at 2000 years B.P. A cooler and drier climate between 4000 and 2000 years likely caused the breakdown of the meromictic condition. These events in the Kivu basin are responsible for patterns of carbonate deposition observed in Lake Tanganyika. The climatic sequence of dry and pluvial periods inferred for the Kivu–Tanganyika basin is consistent with palaeoclimatic reconstructions from other places in East Africa for the last 14,000 years.