Soda Lakes of the Rift Valley (Kenya)

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Soda lakes are alkaline with pH values ranging from 8 to 12 and characterized by high concentrations of principal ions such as Na+, HCO−, CO32− and Cl−. Kenya is endowed with many soda lakes forming part of the East African Rift Valley system and includes lakes Bogoria, Nakuru, Elementeita, and Magadi. In addition, Lake Turkana is located on the Kenya-Ethiopian border further north and is described in a separate chapter in this volume. These lakes are characterized by steep fault escarpments, deep gorges, canyons, and craters on the rift floor, some of which have gushing geysers and hot springs. Historically, the lakes were thought to have been one continuous system called Lake Kamatian. Reconstruction of the history of the four lakes based on dated sedimentary time-series data reveal unique hydrological, ecological, and species richness trends that have fluctuated through time between alkaline and freshwater conditions.