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Geoscience Africa

We aim to understand the geology, georesources, climate, hydrology and landscapes of critical regions in Africa, and to analyse how natural resources can be best harnessed for sustainable development.

We bring together African geoscience expertise in the Earth and Environmental Sciences with local partners and collaborators to meet the geoscientific challenges of Africa.

Africa is a very special continent. It features some of Earth’s oldest rocks, largest mineral and hydrocarbon deposits, and most extreme climates and environments. It is the cradle of humankind but has been particularly severely ravaged by colonialism since the 17th century.

As a UK institution, we see it as a privilege, but also a particular responsibility, to contribute cross-disciplinary solutions to the continued development of the earth and environmental sciences in Africa. Particular areas of focus for us include mineral and hydrocarbon resources, hydrology, paleoclimates, natural hazards and geoscience education and training.

Aims

We aim to understand the geology, georesources, climate, hydrology and landscapes of critical regions in Africa, and to analyse how natural resources can be best harnessed for sustainable development.

Economic geology

We use our state-of-the art analytical instruments to unravel the origin of some of the world’s largest deposits of minerals and hydrocarbons, and to develop improved methods for sustainable and non-invasive exploration. Deposit types of particular focus include magmatic Platinum-group element (PGE)-Ni-Cu and gold deposits, studied in more than a dozen countries within southern, central and west Africa.

Hydrology

We are working with partners across East Africa (including the Horn of Africa) and Central Africa to understand and predict water availability in dryland regions to support community-centred adaptation and resilience to climate change. Our work includes all aspects of the terrestrial water cycle and its interactions with society and ecology. Better understanding of present-day climate-hydrological interactions also enables us to explore how variable water availability influenced human evolution and dispersal in the region.

Paleoclimate

We apply a range of paleoclimate proxies, which tell us about past climatic and environmental variables such as terrestrial temperature, vegetation, precipitation and rainfall seasonality, sea surface temperature, wind patterns, river runoffs and the terrestrial and marine landscape. These coupled marine-terrestrial reconstructions are being used to understand the role climate had in shaping the evolution of new adaptations, the origin and extinction of early hominin species, and the emergence and livelihoods of our species, Homo sapiens.

Natural hazards

Together with partners in Malawi we study fault systems in the southern East African Rift. These faults have the potential for hosting large and damaging earthquakes, and we map the location, orientation, and extent of active faults to constrain seismic hazard.

Geoscience education

We are working with partners including United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union, the World Bank and major mining companies to develop and deliver online courses in prospectivity and sustainability mapping, to prepare graduates for roles in the minerals sector, and the development of industrial minerals and gemstones, with a focus on Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Medical geology

Looking at the human health impacts of bioreactive clay minerals both as a health hazard when ingested or as a potential natural antibacterial agent when dermally applied to wounds.

Selected publications

Academic staff

Professor Wolfgang Maier

Professor Wolfgang Maier

Professor in Earth Science

Email
maierw@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 5382
Professor Thomas Blenkinsop

Professor Thomas Blenkinsop

Professor in Earth Science

Email
blenkinsopt@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 0232
Professor Ian Hall

Professor Ian Hall

Head of School, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Research Professor

Email
hall@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 5612 / +44 (0)29 2087 6689
Dr Iain McDonald

Dr Iain McDonald

Reader

Email
mcdonaldi1@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 4295
Dr Ake Fagereng

Dr Ake Fagereng

Reader

Email
fagerenga@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 0760
Dr Mark Cuthbert

Dr Mark Cuthbert

Principal Research Fellow and Lecturer

Email
cuthbertm2@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 4051
Dr Tiago Alves

Dr Tiago Alves

Reader

Email
alvest@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 6754
Dr James Lambert-Smith

Dr James Lambert-Smith

Lecturer in Exploration and Resource Geology

Email
lambert-smithj@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 4323
Dr Michael Singer

Dr Michael Singer

Reader
Deputy Director of the Water Research Institute

Email
singerm2@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 6257
Dr Tim Jones

Dr Tim Jones

Reader in Environmental Geoscience

Email
jonestp@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 4924
Dr Marc-Alban Millet

Dr Marc-Alban Millet

Senior Lecturer

Email
milletm@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 5124
Dr Ernest Chi Fru

Dr Ernest Chi Fru

Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences

Email
chifrue@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44(0)29 2087 0058

Postgraduate students

No profile image

Reinet Harbidge

Research student

Email
harbidgerc@cardiff.ac.uk
No profile image

Ellie Pryor

Research student

Email
pryore1@cardiff.ac.uk
No profile image

Charles Routleff

Research student

Email
routleffco@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 5874
No profile image

Aidan Starr

Research student

Email
starra1@cardiff.ac.uk
William Smith

William Smith

Research student

Email
smithwd1@cardiff.ac.uk
No profile image

Emanuel Zarate

Research student

Email
zaratee@cardiff.ac.uk

Associated staff

Dr Katie McFall

Dr Katie McFall

Research Associate

Email
mcfallk@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 4331