Saturday, 12 January 2013

More from Afar......... The 24th Colloquim on African Geology CAG in Addis Ababa

This gathering of geologists to exchange scientific ideas on the geology and related resources in Africa takes place every couple of years. It used to be held in Europe and the concept of this meeting was created in Leeds University in association with their East African Research project 40 years ago. It has grown in size and is a meeting largely of geological agencies and academics, with some interest from the minerals and oil and gas industry and increasingly in areas of sustainability in water, soils and renewable energy.

The BGS has a very prominent role in this meeting and this reflects the diversification of our international portfolio and branching out from our traditional geological mapping role, into developing global data bases and also research in sustainability for groundwater in particular. 

We presented results on geological mapping and geochronology in Tanzania, Ethiopia and the UAE and outlined the need for more integrated research and geological correlation in the Neoproterozoic, a period about 1000 to 500 million years ago when the Earth was undergoing significant changes in its atmospheric and oceanic systems and continental plate configurations that link to the evolution of life on Earth, but also to resource generation.
My Plenary talk at CAG24
In terms of data we are pioneering global projects such as Onegeology in which all geological data is shareable and can be displayed in common portals. Similarly we presented data on  open sourced  software that should allow users to share and improve there data management systems, leading towards simpler construction of archives of data that can be shared in global projects.

EVOSS is aimed at providing volcanic risk related services by integrating real time volcanic data globally and is using African  volcanoes, which are poorly monitored on the ground, as test cases; this is part of a Global Volcano Model (GVM). This part of Africa one of the most volcanically active and one in which BGS with other NERC funded scientists have undertaken one of the most comprehensive studies of active rift volcanism.

The meeting will continue with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Geological Society of Africa and the next big geological congress in Africa will be the International Geological Congress in 2016.

Ethiopians are very friendly and the country is rapidly developing  and diversifying. They have some excellent geology and some excellent local and internationally trained geologists in the country and it is a pleasure to be in the country again after 12 years.
My view of Addis Ababa (from the hotel)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Looking Afar in Ethiopia

I am in Ethiopia which is organising the Conference on African Geology this year. I enjoy the country and have several students that I have trained who work here in the University of Addis Ababa.  With a group of geologists attending the conference we went on a field trip to the Ethiopian sector of the African rift valley, which terminates in the Afar.

Geological Map of the Afar Rift

Me overlooking the Ethiopian sector of the African Rift Valley
It is at this point that three of Earth's plate boundaries meet in a triple junction and it is the only place on the planet where a triple junction occurs on continental crust and where we can observe the rifting process and the birth of an ocean. This is one of the hottest parts of the planet, both through the climate but also the intense volcanic activity. Nonetheless, there are several million people who live in the area and manage to use irrigation effectively to farm and also are starting to look into sustainable energy systems, geothermal from the volcanic systems and also wind and water.  

It is an extreme place in many ways and one that is most susceptible to climate change, which may on the multi decade scale significantly impact on the inhabitants ability to live in the Ethiopian rift in particular in the triple junction region of Afar.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

BGS in the UAE

BGS completed the second phase of a major mapping contract with the UAE at the end of 2012. This has been a very fruitful collaboration that has led to the production of a complete set of high resolution maps of the UAE. These are all accompanied by reports on deep geophysics, building stones, mineral potential and environmental geology and building subsurface conditions in cities such as, the rapidly expanding, Abu Dhabi. The photo below is of the superb Grand Mosque which was completed 3 years ago and one of the aims would be to provide a source for the sorts of building materials used here.

I visited the Ministry on the 2nd January 2013 and met the project leader Abdullah Abdi, with Khalid Ali Alhosani, Saleh Ahmed Almahmoudi (see photo below) the intention being to recognise the significant work that both sides have put into the project and discuss ongoing science activities that might evolve now that we have completed the basic surveys.  At the same time BGS  is investing in a suite of follow- up research projects in the UAE.

We expect to maintain a strong ongoing collaborative relationship with the UAE ministry and it was excellent to see all of the geological information, maps and other products strongly co-branded by the the project leaders, UAE, BGS, Sander Geophysics and Western Geco.