Faculty Research Locations in Africa

Zelalem Bedaso

Dikika Paleoanthropological Site, Afar, Ethiopia: Dikika is one of the most famous paleoanthropological sites in the Afar region of Ethiopia renowned for its wealth of hominid and other mammalian fossils. Dikika is part of the greater Afar sedimentary basin situated in the Ethiopian Rift Valley, which is located about 300 km northeast of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. Sediments exposed in Dikika area are nearly continuous sequence spanning the period between 3.8 Ma and 0.15 Ma (Wynn et al., 2006). Dikika is particularly known for the discovery of a nearly complete fossilized remains of a 3.3 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis 3-years-old child. My research at Dikika is particularly focused on establishing the mid-Pliocene paleoenvironmental and Paleoclimatic framework of the site and reconstructs the paleolandscape where Australopithecus occupied.

Galili Paleoanthropological Site, Afar, Ethiopia: Galili Paleoanthropological Research area is the southernmost Pliocene hominid site in the Afar depression, Ethiopia. Since 2000, more than 1500 fossil specimens of more than 50 vertebrate taxa were collected and hominids are represented by several teeth (Macciarelli et al., 2004) and a femur of Australopithecus sp.. The mount Galili Formation is dated between ~5.3 Ma and ~2.3 Ma. My role at Galili is establishing paleoenvironmental context of the mount Galili formation using isotopic proxy record of fossilized tooth enamel for the time interval relevant to Ardipithecus ramidus, and Australopithecus.

Water Isotopes (hydrogen and oxygen) in Ethiopian Precipitation: Spatial and temporal water isotopic data in modern precipitation contribute crucial information about global climate change in the past and today. The global distribution of isotopes in modern precipitation in the last few decades are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Meteorological Organization Global Network for Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP) database (Edwards et al., 19196). In Ethiopia, however, there is only one long-term monthly collection station in Addis Ababa. But water isotope is known to vary both in space and time, so to document these variations, understand source of moisture and establish interpretive framework of oxygen isotopes for the paleo archives. Dr. Naomi Levin (Johns Hopkins University) and myself in collaboration with the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia established four precipitation collection stations in the Ethiopian highlands and collected precipitation samples on daily, weekly and monthly time intervals.

Images, top of page (L to R): Dikika Paleoanthropological Site, Afar, Ethiopia; Galili Paleoanthropological Site, Afar, Ethiopia; and Water Isotopes (hydrogen and oxygen) in Ethiopian Precipitation.

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