Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Daniel M. Deocampo

Second Advisor

Nadine Kabengi

Third Advisor

W. Crawford Elliott


Authigenic clays are potential proxies for paleoclimate change when formed under saline conditions. Between 1.9 -1.7 mya, Olduvai was a closed-hydrologic basin into which Al- and Fe- rich detrital clays were transported from surrounding soils. Authigenic Mg-rich smectite formed within the basin due to chemical alteration in alkaline and saline conditions. 40 samples were chosen from a stratigraphic section in the center of the paleolake and analyzed to characterize the geochemical facies of the material using XRD, EMPA, and FTIR. ~70% of samples were Mg-rich with clay d060 XRD peaks between 1.506-1.523Å. EMPA indicated (Al2O3 + Fe2O3)/MgO ratios ranged from 0.2-4.8, 21 had ratios >1.0, indicating higher (Al2O3 + Fe2O3) content. These clay data correlated with bulk XRF data, indicating diagenetic controls on bulk composition. Therefore, bulk geochemistry can potentially indicate paleoclimate change when influenced by Mg-rich phyllosilicate formation.