, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 97-106

Palaeoclimatic implications of isotopic data from modern and early Holocene shells of the freshwater snail Melanoides tuberculata, from lakes in the Ethiopian Rift Valley

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Abstract

Carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in the shells of the freshwater snail Melanoides tuberculata yield information on the isotopic composition of the water in which the shell was formed, which in turn relates to climatic conditions prevailing during the snails' life span. Melanoides is particularly important because it is widespread in Quaternary deposits throughout Africa and Asia and is ubiquitous in both fresh and highly evaporated lakes. Whole-shell and incremental growth data were collected from modern and fossil shells from two lakes in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. δ18O values in the modern shells from Lake Awassa are in equilibrium with modern waters, while δ18O values in subfossil shells from the margins of Lake Tilo indicate high rainfall during the early Holocene. Sequential analysis along the growth spiral of the shell provides information on seasonal or shorter-term variability of lake water during the lifetime of the organism.