Evidence for Late Pleistocene climate changes from buried soils on the southern slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

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The distribution of the altitudinal vegetation zones on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro is well-known. But no reliable data are available about the vegetation shifts during the Quaternary. Here I present palaeopedological results (elemental, biomarker, stable isotope and radiocarbon analyses), indicating that the frequently occurring buried black A horizons in the montane forest belt are developed under ericaceous vegetation. Since Erica species are not abundant at this altitude nowadays but are characteristic for the sub-alpine zone, the palaeosols reflect palaeoclimatically driven fluctuations and changes of the vegetation zones on Mt. Kilimanjaro. The downhill descent of the ericaceous belt coincided with cold and dry periods like the Late Glacial and the Last Glacial Maximum. Older palaeosols document that such events also took place during the Marine Isotope Stages 3 and 4.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-312
Number of pages10
JournalPalaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2006



  • Black carbon, Carbon isotopes, Late Pleistocene, Mt. Kilimanjaro, n-alkanes, Palaeosols

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