Geological summary of the Busidima Formation (Plio-Pleistocene) at the Hadar paleoanthropological site, Afar Depression, Ethiopia

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29 Scopus citations


The Hadar paleoanthropological site in Ethiopia preserves a record of hominin evolution spanning from approximately 3.45Ma to 0.8Ma. An angular unconformity just above the ca. 2.95Ma BKT-2 complex divides the sediments into the Hadar Formation (ca. 3.8-2.9Ma) and the Busidima Formation (ca. 2.7-0.15Ma). The unconformity is likely a response to a major tectonic reorganization in the Afar Depression, and activation of the As Duma fault near the Ethiopian Escarpment (west of Hadar) created a half-graben in which the Busidima Formation was deposited. The pattern and character of sedimentation in the region changed dramatically above the unconformity, as cut-and-fill channel conglomerates and silt-dominated paleosols that comprise the Busidima Formation stand in sharp contrast to the underlying deposits of the Hadar Formation. Conglomerate deposition has been related to both the perennial, axial paleo-Awash and ephemeral, escarpment-draining tributaries. Overbank silts have yielded fossils attributed to early Homo and Oldowan stone tools. Numerous tuffaceous deposits exist within the Busidima Formation, but they are often spatially limited, fine-grained, and reworked. Recent work on the tephrostratigraphic framework of the Busidima Formation at Hadar has identified at least 12 distinct vitric tephras and established the first geochemical-based correlations between Hadar and the neighboring project areas of Gona and Dikika. Compared to Gona and Dikika, where Busidima Formation sediments are exposed over large areas, the highly discontinuous sediments at Hadar comprise less than 40m in composite section and are exposed over an area of <20km2, providing only snapshots into the 2.7-0.15Ma window. The stratigraphic record at Hadar confirms the complex depositional history of the Busidima Formation, and also provides important details on regional stratigraphic correlations and the pattern of deposition and erosion in the lower Awash Valley reflective of its tectonic history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-352
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of human evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Afar
  • Busidima Formation
  • Hadar Formation
  • Oldowan
  • Tephrostratigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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