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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.


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.


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.


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.

Meet the team

Academic staff

Postgraduate students



School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Committed to achieving the highest standards in research and education and to providing a rich and varied research-led environment where all staff and students can achieve their full potential to the benefit of society.


Next steps


Research that matters

Our research makes a difference to people’s lives as we work across disciplines to tackle major challenges facing society, the economy and our environment.


Postgraduate research

Our research degrees give the opportunity to investigate a specific topic in depth among field-leading researchers.


Our research impact

Our research case studies highlight some of the areas where we deliver positive research impact.