Report

Intensifying Weathering and Land Use in Iron Age Central Africa

Science  09 Feb 2012:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1215400

Abstract

About 3000 years ago, a major vegetation change occurred in Central Africa, when rainforest trees were abruptly replaced by savannas. The consensus is that the forest disturbance was caused by climate change. We show here that chemical weathering in Central Africa, reconstructed from geochemical analyses of a marine sediment core, intensified abruptly at the same period, departing significantly from the long-term weathering fluctuations related to the Late Quaternary climate. Evidence that this weathering event was also contemporaneous with the migration of Bantu-speaking farmers across Central Africa suggests that human land-use intensification at that time already had a significant impact on the rainforest.