Project

Back to overview

SERENA - SEdimentary REcord of the Northern Afar: Insights in the flooding history of the Danakil Depression

Applicant Foubert Anneleen
Number 163114
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Département des Géosciences Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.07.2016 - 31.12.2021
Approved amount 555'224.00
Show all

Keywords (4)

Microbialites; Basin-analysis; Coralgal reefs; Sedimentology

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die Danakil Senke ist eine tektonische Depression (-120 m) die sich im nördlichen Teil des Afar-Dreiecks befindet. Diese Depression steht im Zusammenhang mit dem seit dem Oligozän aktiven Rifting des Afro-Arabischen Plateaus. Obwohl die Depression heutzutage nur einige kleine Seen enthält, gibt es Hinweise darauf, dass sie in der Vergangenheit durch das Rote Meer geflutet wurde. Mehrere Flutungs- und Austrocknungsepisoden führten zur Ablagerung von diversen Karbonat-Einheiten direkt auf den vulkanischen Substraten entlang der gesamten Danakil Senke. Diese Karbonatablagerungen enthalten marine Korallenriffe bis hin zu hypersaline, mikrobielle Riffe. Dagegen entstand im Beckenzentrum ein mehr als 1000 mächtiges Evaporitpaket. Durch das aride Klima in der Senke sind die Aufschlussverhältnisse und der Erhaltungsgrad der Ablagerungen hervorragend. Das Projekt SERENA wird zum Verständnis der räumlichen und zeitlichen Entwicklung sedimentärer Fazies in einem aktiven Rift beitragen.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Ausgewählte Aufschlüsse am westlichen Rand so wie im inneren der Depression sollen auf die Rekonstruktion der jüngeren Flutungsgeschichte der Danakil Senke untersucht werden. Die Erarbeitung von einem durch radiometrische Datierungen unterstützten, stratigraphischen Rahmen wird die Basis für detaillierte, sedimentologische, paläoökologische und biogeochemische Untersuchungen bilden. Diese werden dann ein Grundverständnis zur Flutungsgeschichte, sowie dem Zeitpunkt der endgültigen Schließung der Verbindung zum Roten Meer, als auch der Entwicklung mikrobieller Karbonate in offenen wie in geschlossenen Systemen bieten.

Mikrobielle Ablagerungen finden sich als (1) kleine Stromatolithe und Thrombolithe unterhalb der Evaporiten, (2) in Hohlräume innerhalb der Korallenriffe, und  (3) in hypersaline Seen, die normalerweise in Verbindung zu hydrothermalen Quellen stehen. Die genauere Untersuchung dieser Mikrobialite wird Einblicke in die Prozessen geben, die zur mikrobiell beeinflussten Ausfällung von Karbonat in den verschiedenen, marinen und kontinentalen Ablagerungsräumen führen.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojekts

Während der letzten Jahrzehnte sammelte die örtliche Kaliindustrie eine enorme Menge an Bohrkernen, Bohrloch-Daten und seismischen Linien im zentralen Teil des Beckens. Diese Daten wurden durch die Vermittlung des äthiopischen Ministeriums für Bergbau den beteiligten Forschern zur Verfügung gestellt. Das Studium dieses Datensatzes wird neue Perspektiven für das Verständnis des Zusammenhangs zwischen den Rändern und den Beckeninneren liefern. Durch bilaterale kooperative Forschungsverträge wird es den Wissenschaftlern der Universität Addis Abeba (Äthiopien) und der Universität Fribourg (Schweiz) möglich sein, Visionen über die Zukunft des geologischen Verständnisses der Danakil Senke auszutauschen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 19.01.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Novel Bathymetry of Lake Afdera Reveals Fault Structures and Volcano-Tectonic Features of an Incipient Transform Zone (Afar, Ethiopia)
Schaegis Jean-Charles, Rime Valentin, Kidane Tesfaye, Mosar Jon, Gebru Ermias Filfilu, Atnafu Balemwal, Foubert Anneleen (2021), Novel Bathymetry of Lake Afdera Reveals Fault Structures and Volcano-Tectonic Features of an Incipient Transform Zone (Afar, Ethiopia), in Frontiers in Earth Science, 9, 1-13.
Pleistocene sea-floor fibrous crusts and spherulites in the Danakil Depression (Afar, Ethiopia)
Jaramillo-Vogel David, Foubert Anneleen, Braga Juan Carlos, Schaegis Jean-Charles, Atnafu Balemwal, Grobety Bernard, Kidane Tesfaye (2019), Pleistocene sea-floor fibrous crusts and spherulites in the Danakil Depression (Afar, Ethiopia), in Sedimentology, 66(2), 480-512.

Datasets

Bathymetric and structural data of Lake Afdera and surroundings, Afar, Ethiopia

Author Schaegis, Jean-Charles
Publication date 19.02.2021
Persistent Identifier (PID) https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.935008
Repository PANGAEA
Abstract
We present data from the Lake Afdera (13.26N; 40.90E) and its surrounding. Equipped with a small inflatable boat and an echosounder (Humminbird, 899ci hd si system), we surveyed the lake to obtain its first complete bathymetric map. We further investigated the fault pattern around the lake to interpret the lineaments observed in the bathymetry.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Institute for Geology, University of Hamburg - Prof. Jörn Peckmann, Dr. Daniel Birgel Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Micropaleontology Research Group, University of Fribourg - Dr. S. Spezzaferri Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
GEOMAR - Helmholtz centre for Ocean Research Kiel - Prof. Dr. Anton Eisenhauer Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Quaternary Geology and Palaeoclimatology, University of Bern - Dr. N. Gribenski, Dr. P. Valla Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology, University of Granada - Dr. Juan-Carlos Braga Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Stable Isotope Laboratory, University of Lausanne - Prof. Dr. T. Venneman Switzerland (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure
ETH Zürich - Dr. I. Hajdas Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Paleontology Department, National History Museum London - Dr. Nadia Santadomingo Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University - Dr. Balemwal Atnafu, Prof. Dr. Tesfaye Kidane Ethiopia (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
19th Swiss Geosciences Meeting Talk given at a conference New geological mapping of the Afar depression: from review towards the understanding of basin dynamics during active rifting 19.11.2021 Online, Switzerland Rime Valentin; Foubert Anneleen;
M-Fed Conference and Workshop Talk given at a conference Microbialites and crusts in the Afar (Danakil Depression, Ethiopia): from diagenetic noise to environmental signal 13.10.2021 Paris, France Negga Haileyesus; Schaegis Jean-Charles; Rime Valentin; Foubert Anneleen;
14th International Coral Reef Symposium Poster Ecological dynamics of reef terraces during Marine Isotope Stage 7 (Danakil Basin, Northern Afar, Ethiopia) 19.07.2021 Online, Germany Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen;
Carbonate Forum 2021 Poster Paleo-environmental setting of Pleistocene coralgal reefs in the Danakil Depression (Afar, Ethiopia) 11.05.2021 Online, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Foubert Anneleen; Negga Haileyesus; Rime Valentin;
EGU General Assembly 2021 Talk given at a conference Tectonic controls on the sedimentation patterns in the Danakil Depression, Afar, Ethiopia 19.04.2021 Online, Austria Rime Valentin; Foubert Anneleen; Negga Haileyesus;
EGU General Assembly 2021 Poster Afar Dallol Drilling – ONset of sedimentary processes in an active rift basin (ADD-ON): Scientific drilling targets in the Afar (Ethiopia) 19.04.2021 Online, Austria Rime Valentin; Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen; Schaegis Jean-Charles;
EGU General Assembly 2020 Talk given at a conference Evaporites reveal Pleistocene basin dynamics in the Danakil depression (northern Afar, Ethiopia) 04.05.2020 Online, Austria Rime Valentin; Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen;
17th Swiss Geosciences Meeting Talk given at a conference Danakil evaporites: how to build a salt giant? 22.11.2019 Fribourg, Switzerland Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen; Rime Valentin;
M-Fed - Microbialites Poster The origin and significance of gypsum deposits in a hypersaline rift lake (Lake Afdera, Afar, Ethiopia) 28.10.2019 Dijon, France Rime Valentin; Schaegis Jean-Charles; Foubert Anneleen; Negga Haileyesus;
M-Fed - Microbialites Poster From marine microbialites to hypersaline stromatolites: insights into their spatial heterogeneity through micro-CT scanning techniques 28.10.2019 Dijon, France Foubert Anneleen; Negga Haileyesus;
34th IAS Meeting of Sedimentology Talk given at a conference The interaction between hot spring carbonates and gypsum deposits in a hypersaline rift lake (Lake Afdera, Afar, Ethiopia) 10.09.2019 Rome, Switzerland Negga Haileyesus; Rime Valentin; Foubert Anneleen; Schaegis Jean-Charles;
34th IAS Meeting of Sedimentology Poster Carbonate depositional patterns in an active rift basin: case study of the Danakil depression (Afar, Ethiopia) 10.09.2019 Rome, Italy Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen; Rime Valentin; Schaegis Jean-Charles;
34th IAS Meeting of Sedimentology Talk given at a conference Evaporite deposits of Danakil: record of Red Sea transgression and desiccation in the northern Afar 10.09.2019 Rome, Italy Foubert Anneleen; Rime Valentin; Negga Haileyesus;
13th International Symposium on Fossil Cnidaria and Porifera Poster Paleoecology of Pleistocene coralgal reef terraces in the Danakil Depression (North Afar, Ethiopia) 03.09.2019 Modena, Italy Negga Haileyesus; Rime Valentin; Foubert Anneleen;
27th SwissSed Meeting 2019 Talk given at a conference Pleistocene paleo-environmental changes in the Danakil Depression (Northern Afar, Ethiopia) 23.02.2019 Fribourg, Switzerland Negga Haileyesus; Rime Valentin; Schaegis Jean-Charles; Foubert Anneleen;
16th Swiss Geosciences Meeting Poster Palaeo-environmental evolution of the Danakil Depression during the Pleistocene (Northern Afar, Danakil Depression) 30.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Schaegis Jean-Charles; Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen; Rime Valentin;
International Sedimentological Congress 2018 Talk given at a conference Spatial and temporal heterogeneity of microbialites and aragonite crusts in the Danakil Depression (northern Afar, Ethiopia) 13.08.2018 Quebec, Canada Rime Valentin; Foubert Anneleen; Negga Haileyesus; Schaegis Jean-Charles;
20th International Sedimentological Congress 2018 Poster Danakil Basin (Afar, Ethiopia): from Field, seismic and borehole data to basin dynamics in a rift setting 13.08.2018 Quebec, Canada Foubert Anneleen; Negga Haileyesus; Schaegis Jean-Charles; Rime Valentin;
VI International Rhodolith Workshop Talk given at a conference Coralline algae in Pleistocene reefs in the Danakil Depression (Afar, Ethiopia) 25.06.2018 Roscoff, France Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen;
EGU Meeting 2018 Poster Stepping stone towards a unique archive in the Danakil Basin: Afar Dallol Drilling – ONset of sedimentary processes in an active rift basin (ADDON) 08.04.2018 Vienna, Austria Schaegis Jean-Charles; Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen; Rime Valentin;
SwissSed Meeting 2018 Talk given at a conference Carbonate precipitation during the Holocene in hot springs of the lake Afdera (Northern Afar, Ethiopia) 26.02.2018 Fribourg, Switzerland Foubert Anneleen; Schaegis Jean-Charles; Negga Haileyesus;
SwissSed Meeting 2018 Poster Dynamics of the Danakil basin (northern Afar, Ethiopia): new insights in the development of the continent‐ocean transition through field, well and seismic data analysis 26.02.2018 Fribourg, Switzerland Rime Valentin; Schaegis Jean-Charles; Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen;
SwissSed Meeting 2018 Talk given at a conference Coralgal reefs in the Danakil depression (Northern Afar, Ethiopia) 26.02.2018 Fribourg, Switzerland Negga Haileyesus; Foubert Anneleen; Schaegis Jean-Charles;
33rd International Meeting of Sedimentology Talk given at a conference Insights in the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of biofilm lithification through multi-scaled X-ray CT 10.10.2017 Toulouse, France Foubert Anneleen;
33rd International Meeting of Sedimentology, Toulouse Talk given at a conference Hot spring carbonates associated to a hypersaline lacustrine system in an active rift setting (Lake Afdera, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia). 10.10.2017 Toulouse, France Schaegis Jean-Charles; Foubert Anneleen; Negga Haileyesus;
Geological Society Lyell Meeting: Sticking Together - Microbes and their role in forming sediments Talk given at a conference Insights in the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of microbial and early diagenetic lithification 07.03.2017 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Foubert Anneleen;
Swiss Geosciences Meeting 2016 Poster High-resolution visualization of microbial carbonates using micro-CT : Insights from field and lab-experiments. 18.11.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Foubert Anneleen;
Dolomieu Conference on Carbonate Platforms and Dolomite Poster Diagenetic transformation of isopachous laminated fibrous aragonite into irregular laminated peloidal calcite fabrics (Danakil Depression, Ethiopia). 04.10.2016 Selva Di Val Gardena (Italy), Italy Schaegis Jean-Charles; Foubert Anneleen;
Dolomieu Conference on Carbonate Platforms and Dolomite Poster Hot spring systems in an active rift setting: case study of Lake Afdera in the Danakil Depression (NE Afar, Ethiopia) 04.10.2016 Selva di val Gardena, Italy Foubert Anneleen; Schaegis Jean-Charles;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
ICDP ADD-ON Workshop 26.06.2021 Online, hosted by Fribourg, Switzerland
27th SwissSed Meeting 2019 23.02.2019 Fribourg, Switzerland
SwissSed Meeting 2018 26.02.2018 Fribourg, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Potential Geological Field Museum for Sedimentary Basin Analysis Education: Northern Afar, Ethiopia. Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 15.03.2017 Washington, United States of America Foubert Anneleen;


Self-organised

Title Date Place

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Video/Film Il était une fois… la mer dans le désert Western Switzerland 2022
Video/Film La naissance d’un océan en Ethiopie Western Switzerland 2021
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Photographier la naissance d’un océan Alma & Georges Western Switzerland 2021
Talks/events/exhibitions Science for You(th) 2021 Western Switzerland 2021
Media relations: print media, online media Un doctorant au-dessus du volcan L'Illustré Western Switzerland 2021
Media relations: print media, online media Un explorateur tout terrain La Liberté Western Switzerland 2021
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Semestre sabbatique au pays de la reine de Saba Alma & Georges Western Switzerland 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Explora Days, UniFr German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2018
Talks/events/exhibitions WINS (Women in Natural Sciences) 2017-2018 Western Switzerland 2017

Awards

Title Year
SNSF Scientific Image Competition, First prize in the category "Locations and instruments" - Valentin Rime 2021

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
182090 Swiss membership in the International Scientific Continental Drilling Program ICDP 01.01.2019 Research Infrastructure
150731 Laboratory multi-scale nano-CT scanner for 3D visualization and 4D experimentation in Earth and Material Sciences 01.05.2014 R'EQUIP
183379 A GC/Q-TOF for selective detection and accurate identification of key metabolites involved in biological and geological processes 01.12.2018 R'EQUIP
169911 Swiss membership in the International Scientific Continental Drilling Program ICDP 01.01.2017 Research Infrastructure

Abstract

The Danakil Depression, situated in the northern part of the Afar triangle (up to 120 m below sea level), is a tectonic depression associated to the rifting of the Afro-Arabian plateau, which is active since the Oligocene. Although, nowadays this depression only contains few small lakes, there is evidence that it has been flooded by the Red Sea at least twice during the Middle and Late Pleistocene. Multiple episodes of marine flooding and desiccation led to the deposition of diverse carbonate units surrounding the margins of the Danakil Depression and overlying directly the volcanic substrates. The deposits are ranging from open marine fringing coralgal reefs to hypersaline microbial reefs deposited in lacustrine environments. The basin center is characterized by the deposition of a more than 1000 m thick evaporitic succession. The excellent exposure and preservation conditions (due to an arid climate) of both marine to hypersaline syn-rift sediments at the margin of the Danakil depression and evaporitic sediments in the center of the basin form a unique window to study sediment deposition in a transitional rift basin paced by environmental fluctuations and their interplay with tectonic and magmatic events. Only a few studies - dating back nearly half a century ago - focused on the sedimentary succession of the northern Afar but an in-depth study at basin-scale integrating the marine to hypersaline and lacustrine units from basin margin till center is currently missing. The proposed project ‘SERENA - SEdimentary REcord of the Northern Afar: Insights in the flooding history of the Danakil Depression’, aims to understand the spatial and temporal evolution of sedimentary facies in an active rift setting. Selected key-outcrops, situated at the western margin and the central part of the depression, are to be studied in detail in order to reconstruct the young flooding history of the Danakil depression. The establishment of a well-constrained stratigraphic framework supported by radiometric datings will form the base for detailed sedimentological, palaeoecological and biogeochemical studies, and thus add to the thorough understanding of the flooding history, the timing of final closure of the connection to the Red Sea, and the development of microbial carbonates in open and closed systems. Microbial build-ups are found (1) as small stromatolites and thrombolites in transitional facies below the evaporites, (2) in coralgal reef cavities, and (3) in hypersaline lakes commonly associated to hydrothermal springs. The further study of these microbialites in rapidly changing environments will give insights into their nature and significance and the processes related to microbial-mediated precipitation in diverse marine and continental settings. During the last decades, the local Potash industry collected an enormous amount of core sections, downhole logs and seismic lines in the central part of the basin. Through the mediation of the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines, those data will be available to the proponents of the project. Studying this dataset will open new perspectives in the understanding of the link between the basin marginal deposits and the sedimentary deposits in the central part of the basin.
-