AEON Project Archive

This site is an archive of a project of AEON

About Us

Inkaba is an indigenous Xhosa word encapsulating a sense of total interconnectivity.  Literally it means navel, the central point: a point from which all energy, material and knowledge emerges and is recycled.

Uniting this with yeAfrica creates the broader meaning of Africa - http://aeon.org.za/about-us/vision/ 

Inkaba yeAfrica has been a joint research initiative of the German and South African Earth Science communities for 10 years (until end of Phase II - 2012).  Phase III (2013 - 2015) has, and will be wholly funded by the SA Government : DST and NRF.  Inkaba yeAfrica is managed by the SA Co-ordinator for Inkaba yeAfrica, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Prof. Maarten de Wit through AEON (Africa Earth Observatory Network) at the Earth Stewardship Science Research Institute at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (ESSRI-NMMU) in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa.  The This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Inkaba Liaison Office and Operations Manager (Ms This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Elronah Schaap (Smit)) is based in Pretoria, Gauteng.

What does INKABA Do?

Inkaba yeAfrica's research is holistic and socially relevant:

  • Sustainable resources (energy, clean water, soil)

  • Manageable risks (mine safety, climate change, tsunami early warning)

  • Earth observation and monitoring (satellite systems, magnetic field, geo-history)

  • Human capacity building (next-generation scientists; public awareness).

The Inkaba yeAfrica programme is built around three research categories : (1) The Deep Earth and the Distant Past are encapsulated in Heart of Africa; (2) the causes and consequences of Africa separating from South America and Antarctica are studied in Margins of Africa; and (3) human habitat, resources and global change are included in Living Africa.
 


 

 

Heart of Africa studies energy transfer from Earth's core to the surface and beyond.  Growth of the South Atlantic magnetic hole, already a problem for aircraft guidance systems and satellites, will continue to come under intense scrutiny.  Revealing the deep structures and the evolution of the African continent since the distant past will provide new insights into ore-forming processes.  The Earth and Ocean Monitoring Network for revealing how this and other natural phenomena impinge upon society is expanded from Phase I.  The causes and rates of surface uplift are addressed in order to provide essential elements for predicting changes in aridity and erosion that are part and parcel of Living Africa.

Margins of Africa studies the causes, mechanisms and consequences of continental break-up and the development of the southern Oceans.  This information is vital to reconstructing changes in ocean currents, the conveyer belts of heat that help drive climate, and for modeling the evolution of offshore sedimentary basis and their hydrocarbon potential.  The vast outpourings of lava that occur during continental separation are catastrophic events of global impact, and their study gives insights into the workings of Earth's deep heat engine.

Living Africa presents the most tangible human link to geological processes, certainly as far as the non-specialist is concerned.  Ecosystems and climate change are brought to the fore, using past archives and present-day records.  Soil systems and land use is a completely new addition to the programme, linking human habitat with the dynamics of the solid earth.  Mineral resources, mining and the environment, complete the list of topics that are of fundamental importance to the welfare and development of South Africa.
 

The African continent in the perspective of integrated geoscience, with young topographic uplift (warm colours) and kimberlite pipes (yellow) together with geophysical images of the deep mantle roots
The African continent in the perspective of integrated geoscience, with young topographic uplift (warm colours) and kimberlite pipes (yellow) together with geophysical images of the deep mantle roots
 

Phase I - Where are we now?

Inkaba yeAfrica has achieved flagship status in this short time because of its excellent blend of pure and applied Earth Systems Science and its fully integrated Capacity Building programme.  It has been financed by dovetailing institutional and third party funds from both countries, and it has delivered the goods.

A special volume of the South African Journal of Geology (SAJG) was published in October 2007 - with main science results published in this dedicated volume of the SAJG, 2007, with over 20 scientific papers.

An extensive training and teaching programme has been put in motion with the emphasis on high technology.  17 postgraduate and postdoctoral students have been involved in research projects, and many more received training as field and laboratory assistants. Phase I comprised of 12 projects with 20 institutional partners from both countries, total investment to 2007 of 23 million Euros.

Phase II – Where are we going?

Continuing Excellence:

New partners, both within South Africa (University of the Free State, University of Fort Hare) and outside (Mozambique, Namibia) as well as several new participants (eg. University Pretoria).


New topics have expanded the scope of research to include the vital issue of land use and remediation, geo/biosphere interaction and ore resources.

A special volume of the South African Journal of Geology (SAJG) was published in December 2011 with main science results in this dedicated volume of the SAJG, 2011, with over 26 scientific papersThe ongoing and extensive training and teaching programme was intensified with the emphasis on human capital investment and development, incl. high technology. 


New opportunities opened up for increased involvement of German universities via a new DFG Priority Programme (SPP 1375) with the theme of passive margin processes in the South AtlanticNote:  SAMPLE - the 2015 SAMPLE colloquium will take place in Monschau, Germany at the Carat Hotel Monschau from 9-12 June.

 

Phase III – Future Earth (2013-2015)

 

 

The History of Inkaba yeAfrica

A historic German - South Africa connection

In 1912, German scientist Alfred Wegener predicted that as the continents of Africa and Antarctic emerged from their Gondwana super continental embryo, many side effects (such as global climate change) would follow in the wake of their dispersal and the formation of the southern oceans that now surround them.

 

 

South Africa's most famous geologist, Alex L. du Toit, in 1937 dedicated his work “Our Wandering Continents” to the memory of Alfred Wegener. Wegener and Du Toit established that South Africa and its adjacent oceans form a globally unique Earth Systems Laboratory from which to advance knowledge of how Earth works and to predict its future ways.

What Wegener and Du Toit could not then have predicted is how the horizontal movements are affected by processes deep in the solid-earth, perhaps even 3 000 km down to the core-mantle boundary.

More startling yet, processes that act across the core-mantle boundary with potential influence on stability of Earth's magnetosphere may vary and become so distorted as to threaten life on Earth. This is Earth system interaction at its grandest scale.

We must aim to understand it, for the knowledge will serve us well in the future. This is the motivation and mission of German and South African Earth scientists linked within Inkaba yeAfrica.
 

User Logon