AEON Project Archive

This site is an archive of a project of AEON

Phase I

Phase I: Overview (2003 - 2007) - Where we are Now

Phase I - Proposal Book


Key results in the Special Inkaba yeAfrica 2007 Issue of          SA Journal of Geology (SAJG)

When, in 2003, the German and South African Earth and Space community started a five-year program to acquire new geo-scientific data through a number of disciplines and an overall goal to investigate the consilience amongst them, it was not expected to make as much progress as has been achieved to date.

Over 100 scientists and some 30 students from both countries worked together on land and on ships to survey a cone-shaped sector of our Earth from its core to space, enclosing South Africa and the Southern Oceans at its solid surface, and tracking the history and interactions of its components for up to 200 million years into the past.

Inkaba yeAfrica Phase I was celebrated with a special volume of the South African Journal of Geology (SAJG) (combining issues 2 and 3 of volume 110) comprising 24 papers written by a total of 66 authors, including 16 students.  Most of the initial results of all the projects are reported in the 502 pages of this volume.

Southern Africa and its surrounding oceans are a world-class global change laboratory

South Africa and its surrounding ocean environment is amongst the best natural laboratories in the world to pursue such a visionary project because it retains the longest best-preserved record of Earth history, including that of natural resources, geomagnetic reversals, chemical variations of the mantle, crust, oceans and atmosphere, and climate changes extending back more than 3500 million years.

Southern Africa is also the focus of dramatic changes in the Earth’s present magnetic field, ocean currents, climatic swings, threats to terrestrial and marine biodiversity hot spots, and symbolises Earth’s long period of co-evolution of earth and life.

From the cradle of life to the cradle of human culture: Left: Earth’s oldest fossil evidence for life. 3500 million year-old microbial structures, as preserved in pillow lava rims of the Barberton Mountain Land, eastern South Africa. Right: World’s oldest human cultural artifacts. 75,000 year-old beads, discovered in Blombos Cave, along the south coast of South Africa (


Over the last 5 years, work and achievements throughout Phase I have established Inkaba yeAfrica as a global brand-name and a successful model for international cooperation in Earth System Science research that is now being duplicated, and implemented, by other nations.

Mindful of the policies of the South African government, the African and European Unions, Inkaba yeAfrica has developed a new way of Earth exploration and is carving out new paths of Earth Stewardship Science designed to enable scientific independence for sustainable development and capacity building in Africa.

The Inkaba yeAfrica Workshop at GFZ Potsdam, Germany - 2006

 The Inkaba yeAfrica workshop at the Wild Coast KZN, South Africa - 2007



Themes - Phase 1

Heart of Africa  - Energy transfer from core to space

Earth and Ocean monitoring with global networks and models (ITRF, IGRF, geoid/gravity), deep earth processes and surface consequences, mantle-core dynamics, decay of the geomagnetic field over southern Africa with its human consequences.


Margins of Africa - Continental break-up causes and consequences

The causes of continental break-up with relation to lithospheric structures, mantle dynamics and magmatic processes. The consequences of break-up, with margin evolution, erosion and sedimentation budgets, heatflow and hydrocarbon resources. Changes in offshore sedimentation style and evolution of basin systems.


Living Africa - Oceans, resources and climate

Surface uplift and landscape evolution with links to climate change, hydrology and soil systems and the biosphere. Energy and Resource Ocean current dynamics – upwelling, global climate and continental aridity.


Heart of Africa - Energy Transfer from Core to Space

Topics and Project Leaders:

  1. Earth and Ocean monitoring network across southern Africa (SADC): a long-term regional project to support multi- disciplinary earth science          
                    Dr Ludwig Combrinck, HartRAO, South Africa
                    Dr Jürgen Neumeyer, GFZ Potsdam, Germany

  2. Geomagnetic field variations in the southern African region and its link to global geomagnetic field evolution         
                    Prof. Mioara Mandea and Dr. Monika Korte GFZ Potsdam, Germany
                    Dr Peter Sutcliffe and Dr Pieter Kotze, HMO Hermanus, South Africa

  3. Epeirogenic history of southern Africa: tracking 200 million years of uplift, exhumation, erosion: relationship to the deep Africa mantle and influence on climate
                    Prof. Maarten de Wit, University of Cape Town, South Africa
                    Dr Samuel Niedermann and Prof. Jörg Erzinger, GFZ Potsdam, Germany

  4. Rock bursts , gas release and earthquake hazards in deep gold mines               
                    Dr Steve Spottiswoode, CSIR , South Africa
                    Prof. Georg Dresen and Prof. Jörg Erzinger, GFZ Potsdam , Germany

 Margins of Africa - Continental Breakup: Causes and Consequences

Topics and Project Leaders:

  1. The Western (Atlantic) volcanic rifted margin: lithospheric structures, magmatic processes and offshore basin evolution
                        Prof. Michael Weber and Dr Robert Trumbull, GFZ Potsdam, Germany
                        Prof. David Reid University of Cape Town, South Africa
                        Dr Sönke Neben, BGR Hannover, Germany
                        Coenraad de Beer, Council for Geoscience, South Africa

  2. The Agulhas – Karoo Geoscience Transect: from a sheared margin to the continental interior
                        Prof. Maarten de Wit, University of Cape Town, South Africa
                        Luc Chevallier, Council for Geoscience, South Africa
                        Dr Oliver Ritter, Dr Ute Weckmann, Dr Trond Ryberg, GFZPotsdam
                        Dr Karsten Gohl AWI Bremerhaven, Germany
                        Prof. Reginald Domoney, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

  3. The South-east African margin and its marine basins and ridge systems
                        Prof. Mike Wattkeys, University of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa
                        Dr Wilfried Jokat AWI Bremerhaven, Germany
                        Dr Christian Reichert, BGR Hannover, Germany

  4. Dredge sampling of the South Atlantic Volcanic Ridges and Seamounts
                        Prof. Anton leRoex University of Cape Town, South Africa
                        Prof. Mike Wattkeys, University of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa
                        Dr Wilfried Jokat AWI Bremerhaven, Germany

  Living Africa - Land and Oceans, Resources and Climate Change

Topics and Project Leaders:

  1. Generation, migration and sequestration of natural gas during post-breakup history of the South African continental margin
                         Prof. George Smith, University of Cape Town, South Africa
                         Prof. Reginald Domoney, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
                         Prof. Brian Horsfield, and Rolando diPrimio, GFZ Potsdam, Germany

  2. Seismic stratigraphy of the South Atlantic marine basins: clues to Neogene-Quaternary changes in tectonics, ocean currents and sea level
                         Dr Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth, GFZ Potsdam, Germany
                         Dr Gabriele Uenzelmann-Neben, AWI Bremerhaven, Germany
                         Prof. Reginald Domoney, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

  3. Neogene – Quaternary paleo-oceanography from the geochemistry of sediment successions on the South African margin
                         Prof. John Compton, University of Cape Town, South Africa
                        Dr Gabriele Uenzelmann-Neben, AWI Bremerhaven, Germany

  4. Past preciptiation patterns in South Africa from lake climate archives, relation to southern oscillation and the Antarctic Ice Regime
                        Prof. Tim Partridge, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
                        Dr Hedwig Oberhänsli, GFZ Potsdam , Germany



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