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A Joint Initiative ofthe German andSouth African EarthScienceCommunitiesINKABA yeAFRICAEarth Systems SciencePhase IITHE DEEP EARTHAND THE DISTANT P ASTHEART OF AFRICACONTINENTALMARGINS OAND OCEANIC GATEWFBRAFREAAYKSCAIUPHLAAIVNG AFRICAITBINDRESOURCESAT,GLOBAL CHANGE


What is Inkaba yeAfrica and Why is it Important?Inkaba yeAfrica is a German-South African collaborative Earth Science initiative that is bothmulti-disciplinary and intercultural, dovetailing next-generation science and technology with astrong training and capacity-building component that is aligned with the R&D strategies ofboth nations.Three teams of earth scientists from leading institutes in both countries are taking on theglobal challenges of climate change, sustainable resources, clean water and energy. Theseare pressing issues and are all related to the dynamics of Earth Systems. They can only besolved by understanding the complex interactions among the solid earth, the biosphere, theatmosphere and oceans. And this will require educating a new generation of youngscientists trained in holistic earth science.South Africa’s geologic superlatives, its enormous mineral wealth, its position in the “climateengine” of the southern oceans and its growing human demands on land use, energy andresources makes this an ideal natural laboratory and a vital testing ground for innovativescience in aid of society.Co-ordinators:University of Cape Town and AEONGeoForschungsZentrum PotsdamProf. Maarten de Wit Maarten.deWit@uct.ac.zaProf. Brian Horsfield horsf@gfz-potsdam.de1


EXECUTIVE OVERVIEWEarth Systems Science in AfricaSafeguarding society from natural disasters, sustaining economic growth without threateningthe environment, supplying an ever growing world population with industrial raw materials,food, clean water and energy; these challenges are inextricably linked with the dynamics ofplanet Earth.Remember - events such as earthquakes and tsunamis manifest themselves in seconds tohours, but they result from stress built up over thousands and millions of years deep withinthe Earth and at distant locations. Climate change is a similar story, with complex chains ofcause and effect that operate globally and at different scales.Quantifying global changes, identifying the anthropogenic influence thereon, and predictingtheir impingement on societies throughout the world – these are key goals of Earth SystemsScience.The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres chose southern Africa as an EarthSystem Observatory for Global Change because of its uniquely preserved geological record.Southern Africa is at the centre of dramatic current changes in the Earth’s magnetic field andit is the cradle of human culture. South Africa is the technologically and economicallystrongest nation in southern Africa and has a wealth of mineral resources. The South Africa -German partnership in Earth sciences is truly symbiotic, with both nations facing the samegrand challenges of sustainable, safe and clean sources of energy and raw materials neededfor advanced technology, and of training a next generation of innovative, holistic scientists.All stand to benefit from joining together to unravel the workings of our planet from thisspecial perspective.Inkaba yeAfrica is a joint research initiative of the German and South African Earth sciencecommunities that has been running for 5-years. It has achieved flagship status in this shorttime because of its excellent blend of pure and applied Earth Systems Science and its fullyintegrated Capacity Building programme. It has been financed by dovetailing institutional andthird party funds from both countries, and it has delivered the goods – a special volume ofthe South African Journal of Geology was published in October 2007, and an extensivetraining and teaching programme has been put in motion with the emphasis on hightechnology.The Inkaba yeAfrica programme is built around three research categories. The deep Earthand the distant past are encapsulated in Heart of Africa; the causes and consequences ofAfrica separating from South America and Antarctica are studied in Margins of Africa; andhuman 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 guidancesystems and satellites, will continue to come under intense scrutiny. Revealing the deepstructures and the evolution of the African continent since the distant past will providenew insights into ore-forming processes. The Earth and Ocean Monitoring Network forrevealing how this and other natural phenomena impinge upon society is e•panded fromPhase I. The causes and rates of surface uplift are addressed in order to provideessential elements for predicting changes in aridity and erosion that are part and parcelof Living Africa.2


• Margins of Africa studies the causes, mechanisms and consequences of continentalbreak-up and the development of the southern Oceans. This information is vital toreconstructing changes in ocean currents, the conveyer belts of heat that help driveclimate, and for modelling the evolution of offshore sedimentary basis and theirhydrocarbon potential. The vast outpourings of lava that occur during continentalseparation are catastrophic events of global impact, and their study gives insights into theworkings of Earth's deep heat engine.• Living Africa presents the most tangible human link to geological processes, certainly asfar as the non-specialist is concerned. Ecosystems and climate change are brought to thefore, using past archives and present-day records. Soil systems and land use is acompletely new addition to the programme, linking human habitat with the dynamics ofthe solid earth. Mineral resources, mining and the environment, complete the list of topicsthat are of fundamental importance to the welfare and development of South Africa.An image of the African continent from the perspective of Earth Systems Science, showing thelinks between young topographic uplift (warm colours), diamondiferous kimberlite pipes (yellow)and geophysical information on the structure of the mantle roots beneath South Africa.3


Inkaba yeAfrica Phase I: Where we are nowWhen, in 2003, the German and South African Earth and Space community started a fiveyearprogram to acquire new geo-scientific data through a number of disciplines and anoverall goal to investigate the consilience amongst them, we did not expect to make as muchprogress as has been achieved to date.Over 100 scientists and some 30 students from both countries worked together on land andon ships to survey a cone-shaped sector of our Earth from its core to space, enclosing SouthAfrica and the Southern Oceans at its solid surface, and tracking the history and interactionsof its components for up to 200 million years into the past.Southern Africa and its surrounding oceans area world-class global change laboratory.Key results from Phase 1 in a specialissue of the S. African Journal of GeologySouth Africa and its surrounding ocean environment is amongst the best natural laboratoriesin the world to pursue such a visionary project because it retains the longest best-preservedrecord of Earth history, including that of natural resources, geomagnetic reversals, chemicalvariations of the mantle, crust, oceans and atmosphere, and climate changes, extending backmore 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, andsymbolises Earth’s long period of co-evolution of earth and life.Professor Siswa Sayto of the School of Languages and Literatures at the University of CapeTown, suggested the name Inkaba yeAfrica as our hall-mark for geo-bio science research inAfrica - Inkaba is an indigenous word for total interconnectivity; literally navel, it expressesthe concept of a centre from which all energy, material and life emerges, connects and isrecycled.4


From the cradle of life to the cradle of human culture: Left: Earth’s oldest fossil evidence for life. 3500million 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, discoveredin Blombos Cave, along the south coast of South Africa (www.blomboscave.co.za)Over the last 5 years, work and achievements throughout Phase I have established InkabayeAfrica as a global brand-name and a successful model for international cooperation inEarth System Science research that is now being duplicated, and implemented, by othernations. Mindful of the policies of the South African government, the African and EuropeanUnions, Inkaba yeAfrica has developed a new way of Earth exploration and is carving outnew paths of Earth Stewardship Science designed to enable scientific independence forsustainable development and capacity building in Africa.The Inkaba yeAfrica workshop at GFZ Potsdam, 20065


Inkaba yeAfrica is Big ScienceThe scale and complexity of Inkaba yeAfrica are what set it apart from most Earth scienceefforts globally. Much of the science carried out requires layout of expensive field andlaboratory equipment, the use of marine research vessels and various satellites. The scienceteams are taking on truly Grand Challenges of urgent socio-economic needs to meet theextreme complexities of sustainable development in our present and future world.Seismic equipment from the GFZ poolReady for deployment in the KarooNewly installed tide gauge at Marion IslandInkaba.org - Inkaba’s Window to the WorldInkaba.org’s mandate is to promote Inbaba yeAfrica, and the geosciences in general, inSouth Africa. The organisation was set up to effect communication with government andindustry, thereby establishing continuity, visibility and a two-way transfer of ideas andrecommendations. We consider this a must when managing a large project under conditionsof perpetually changing economic and political boundary conditions.Inkaba.org was established in 2007. Check out the website www.inkaba.orgIn a nutshell:• Located at HartRAO (Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory)• Liaison between government and Inkaba science coordinators• Dovetails Inkaba scientific programme with changing national needs• Geoscience materials for teachers and educators, etc.The Inkaba.org office is run by Elronah Smit (elronah@inkaba.org).6


Inkaba yeAfrica Phase II Where we are GoingDuring the first 5 years, Inkaba yeAfrica has focused on building firm cultural exchangesbased on integrating pure and applied science. The focus has been on offshore and deepcrustal probing. Whilst it is important to continue and expand some of these projects, in ournext phase a concerted effort will be made to focus also more on the surface of the Earthand all that this entails for sustainable development, health, food security, and conservation.New questions will be asked and addressed:How much of soil erosion in Africa is natural, how much is due to marginal farming practicesor large scale deforestation, and other land uses or abuses? How much does this costsociety?Such knowledge development will form the basis for informed decision making about issuessuch as sustainable land use, harvesting of renewable and non-renewable resources, andprotection of sustainable biodiversity, and will act as a stimulus for new technologies in thefields of materials, services and forecasting. A firm integration of, for example, landscapechanges, early human colonization, evolving land and resource uses, and urbanization, willform the basis for this type of work on understanding ecodynamics.The new proposals for research and training activities in Phase II represent much more thansimply a continuation of Phase I. Instead, they demonstrate substantial growth in terms ofnew disciplines and a broader scope of research with even greater emphasis on societalneeds. Inkaba has more partners from science, government and industry in both countries,as well as new funding sources and enhanced training and networking platforms for bothSouth African and German students.Most of the research topics from Phase I are carried forward. But all have acquired newavenues and fresh perspectives from the benefits of cross-disciplinary teamwork. Joiningthem in Phase II are two completely new initiatives, both designed to tackle GrandChallenges that are of particular relevance to South Africa: (1) the extent and impact ofglobal change on human habitat, and (2) the growing demand for mineral resources coupledwith the need for environmental responsibility and safety in exploiting them.New disciplines and a broader scope in line with societal needsUnderstanding how the Earth system operates requires looking back in time at past statesand transitions, in other words, turning the clock back on past episodes of global change tostudy their causes and effects. South Africa preserves one of the most complete geologicarchives in the world, spanning over 3.5 billion years of Earth History.The awareness of global change and its impact on human habitat has moved from thescientific community to the public and political arenas. Nowhere is a systems approach toresearch, with integration of scientific disciplines and high-technology monitoring moreimportant than here. South Africa is within the climate engine of the southern oceans and itsnatural climate archives present key information to understand the rates of change in climateand ecosystem, and to quantify the additional forcing due to modern human activity.Integration of projects concerned with land use, ecosystems and vulnerability of the criticalzone, that thin and fragile veneer of soil between the solid earth and atmosphere on whichhuman subsistence depends. Anchored within Inkaba, this vital issue will be studied in aholistic way, with input from agronomists and soil scientists and also from geoscientists withexpertise in surface uplift and erosion, satellite remote sensing, and climate changemodelling.7


The minerals industry supports a large percentage of the South African economy. The newinitiative on mineral resources, mining and the environment reflects this importance.Research on ore formation processes guides exploration and mineral extraction strategies;important environmental issues at both the supply and consumption ends of the resourcechain require monitoring and mitigation research.More partners equals more expertise and greater opportunitiesNew institutional partners contributing to research on ecosystems and global change are theAgricultural Research Council of South Africa and Germany's Potsdam Institute for ClimateImpact Research. A large number of new university partners will contribute to Phase II,particularly in the new Living Africa themes. The South African Universities of the Free State,Rhodes and Pretoria are joining or leading projects, and on the German side the newcomersare the Technical University of Munich, and the universities of Regensburg, Bonn andHannover.Bilateral cooperation forms the core of Inkaba yeAfrica but new partnerships with otherAfrican countries are growing, and institutions from Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia andBotswana are a vital part of Phase II.Participation and cross-linkage with other international research networks and sciencecoordination agencies are also increasing in Phase II, examples of new cooperations arewith the German Priority Program SAMPLE (South Atlantic Margin Processes and Links toSurface Evolution), with the South African ACCESS program for climate change, and withthe international biodiversity program BIOTA Southern Africa.Deployment of high technology and innovative researchThe trademark of Inkaba yeAfrica is the ability to deploy advanced, high tech methods andinstrumentation. This is absolutely vital because the challenge of unravelling the dynamicEarth systems requires precise measurements and monitoring at an astonishing range ofscales, from the hundreds of kilometres covered by orbiting satellite platforms or deepseismology experiments, to the nano-scale of molecular biology and mineral surface science.Phase II calls for expansion and upgrading the GPS-based geodetic network in southernAfrica, which is vital for regional studies of global change (Living Africa) as well as forresearch on continental deformation or atmospheric/ionospheric sciences (Heart of Africa).We also have plans to build a new southern African Space Geodesy and Earth Observatoryto continuously monitor dedicated satellites locally. A ground and geotechnical survey of aproposed site for such a new observatory was completed in 2006. The site is in the southernKaroo, near Matjiesfontein. The proposed observatory is envisaged to function as a newgeodetic site as part of a global network, and appears suitable to house a permanentdifferential global navigation satellite system, a lunar laser ranger and radio telescopeantennas for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) studies to determine Earth rotationsand tectonic plate motions.Marine research vessels deploying sophisticated geophysical and hydrographic equipmentwill continue to support a range of projects within the Margins of Africa theme, whereas theresearch themes Living Africa and Heart of Africa will see expanded use of satellite andairborne instrumentation as well as innovative applications. Advanced laboratory techniqueswill be deployed to study dynamic processes at the near-atomic scale (weathering reactionsand soils, rock deformation, ore formation), and for precisely dating geologic events andgeomorphic surfaces. In this regard we intend to build Africa’s first integrated paleomagneticstepheating Ar/Ar and noble gas laboratory to enable these measurements to be maderoutinely on this continent, in our own back yard so to speak, and not to rely only on takingsamples for such measurements to laboratories overseas.8


The Research PerspectiveForewarning society of natural disasters, sustaining economic growth without threatening theenvironment, and supplying an ever growing world population with industrial raw materials,food, clean water and energy - these are grand challenges facing industrialized societies. Allare inextricably linked with the natural dynamics of planet Earth, intertwined andinterconnected with the effects of man’s recent agricultural and industrial activities. The truemagnitude of natural change, be it biological, chemical or physical, is very hard to grasp,especially for the layman because our everyday lives are geared to events which lastminutes, days, weeks and years; the scale of thousands or millions of years seems academicand far removed from life’s problems. But events such as earthquakes and tsunamis, whichmanifest themselves in seconds to hours, result from stress built up over thousands andmillions of years deep within the Earth and at distant locations. Climate change is a similarstory, with complex chains of cause and effect that operate globally and at different scaleshaving an influence; man is not the only villain in the story.Understanding the implications of far-reaching, complex changes of the earth and theenvironment to a degree that allows the provision of guidance to policy-makers and thepublic is a daunting task, but one which we are prepared to take on.Our ambitious goals are to make scientific advances that help address the grand challenges,and to increase public awareness as to the workings of planet Earth. Where better to conductthese activities than in South Africa. Its uniquely preserved record of tectonic movements,volcanic events, natural resource formation, and climate change extend back more than3000 million years. Southern Africa is at the centre of dramatic current changes in the Earth’smagnetic field and is the cradle of human culture. South Africa is the technologically andeconomically strongest nation in southern Africa and it is blessed with mineral resources.The South Africa - German partnership in Earth sciences is truly symbiotic, with both nationsfacing the same grand challenges of sustainable, safe and clean sources of energy and rawmaterials needed for advanced technology, and of training a next generation of innovative,holistic scientists. All stand to benefit from joining together to unravel the workings of ourplanet from this special perspective.9


Inkaba yeAfrica’s research aims at understanding global processes and the interactionbetween geosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. The focus of Phase I has been, and thatof Phase II will be, high tech-based. We study and model relevant geoprocesses, monitor thestatus and trends of the system Earth, determine the physical /chemical /biological limits ofcritical conditions, as well as long-term monitoring of global and regional variations. Thus,near-Earth satellites, air-borne sensing systems, a global network of permanent geophysicaland geodetic stations, mobile instrument arrays as well as integrated analytical andexperimental facilities will be deployed.Three integrated German-South African teams of earth scientists, amalgamated as a holisticgroup, will continue to survey a cone-shaped sector of Earth from its core to space, enclosingSouth Africa and the Southern Oceans at its solid surface, and track the history of itscomponents for at least 200 million years into the past. Climate change, biodiversity, naturalresources and hazards of Africa will be better understood once the geodynamics of theEarth's operating systems are differentiated and analyzed in the above manner. We havesplit the work into 3 foci, whose content is readily conveyed to the non-specialist by the termsHeart of Africa, Margins of Africa and 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 guidancesystems and satellites, will continue to come under intense scrutiny. Revealing the deepstructures and the evolution of the African continent since the distant past will providenew insights into ore-forming processes. The Earth and Ocean Monitoring Network forrevealing how this and other natural phenomena impinge upon society is expanded fromPhase I. Finally, the causes and rates of surface uplift provide essential elements forpredicting changes in aridity and erosion that are part and parcel of Living Africa.• Margins of Africa studies the causes, mechanisms and consequences of continentalbreak-up and the development of the southern Oceans. This information is vital toreconstructing changes in ocean currents, the conveyer belts of heat that help driveclimate, and for modelling the evolution of offshore sedimentary basis and theirhydrocarbon potential. The vast outpourings of lava that occur during continentalseparation are catastrophic events of global impact, and their study gives insights into theworkings of Earth's deep heat engine.• Living Africa presents the most tangible human link to geological processes, certainly asfar as the non-specialist is concerned. Ecosystems and climate change are brought to thefore, using past archives and present-day records. Soil systems and land use is acompletely new addition to the programme, linking human habitat with the dynamics ofthe solid earth. Mineral resources, mining and the environment, complete the list of topicsthat are of fundamental importance to the welfare and development of South Africa.10


The Human PerspectiveCapacity Building has been at the forefront of Inkaba yeAfrica, ever since the project’sinception in 2003. The most recent discussions at a high political level has involved MinisterMosibudi Mangena (Department of Science and Tec hnology) during his visit to GFZ Potsdamin August 2007. Our successful co-operation and training programmes were also at the top ofthe agenda at the German-African Stipend Exchange meeting in Potsdam in September thisyear, an initiative of the German President, and at the Phase I progress discussions at theDepartment of Science and Technology in Pretoria in October 2007.Formal Training of South African StudentsA core vision of Inkaba yeAfrica is to nurture a new generation of top- qualifiedpostgraduates and postdoctoral researchers with multicultural backgrounds, who can exploreways of integrating formerly segregated geosciences, economic and social needs of Africa.For South African students, projects are streamlined under multi-supervision mentorship inSouth Africa and during extended research visits in Germany. German students eitherparticipate in field experiments in South Africa, and/or conduct field work for their M.Sc.theses, whilst others work on higher degrees in Germany on their data obtained in SouthAfrica.Field work across the Cape Mountains….….and laboratory training at the GFZ inPotsdamFrom 2005 onward, 6 South African graduate students have completed extended researchvisits at the GFZ for specialised training. These training periods are intensive and intended toenhance technical and analytical skills not available in South Africa. For example, onestudent worked successfully for 8 months at GFZ to analyse and interpret the newly acquiredhigh resolution seismic reflection data across the Karoo Basin, on which she completed herMSc that includes 2 publications in a peer reviewed international journal, one as the leadingauthor. She will now continue in the Inkaba yeAfrica Phase II program as a PhD student.Similarly 3 black students completed 3-6 months training at GFZ on 3-D petroleum systemmodelling on their own data acquired through the South African Petroleum Agency. The firstSouth African PhD student is now spending a full year at GFZ conducting analyticalexperiments, whilst the first South African postdoctoral researcher continues with a secondyear in the Inkaba yeAfrica programme at GFZ after completing two field experiments withthe GFZ team in South Africa. In addition, some 10 honours students have completed theirthesis work in South Africa on Inkaba yeAfrica topics, and some are extending these intoMSc projects. Many of the students have participated actively in the annual Inkaba yeAfrica11


workshops, and at the last workshop, in KwaZuluNatal, an entire day was devoted totechnical talks by young Inkaba yeAfrica research students only. This has proved to be asuccessful formula to engage with their works and needs. We will continue with this strategyat the workshops.South African and German students and staff engaged in the Inkaba yeAfrica seismicreflection and magnetotelluric experiments in the Karoo.The total number of South African students that have completed their work stands at justover 20, an excellent achievement considering the many mitigating factors we confrontedand from which we have learned important lessons. We are confident that we can use this tobuild a larger, robust and sustainable group of young scientists during Phase II. For example,during a mid-2007 short course on basin analysis taught at the University of the WesternCape, two GFZ postgraduates were able to successfully attract a large number of potentialMSc students. This underscores the need for more direct interactions beyond mere datacollecting and research work. We intend therefore to run several such small student-friendlyworkshops on an annual basis.Opportunities for undergraduates and graduates within specific research projects of InkabayeAfrica are listed in the individual research proposals. The total number of studentships inthese projects stands at approximately 100. Specially tailored development and capacitybuilding projects designed to focus on an accelerated path for students from previouslydisadvantaged backgrounds are built specifically into some of the research proposals. Inaddition, more centralised capacity building and outreach programmes in South Africa will becoordinated through the Inkaba yeAfrica office, in collaboration with Dr Hassina Mouri of theUniversity of Pretoria, and with the AEON initiative at the University of Cape Town.12


Public OutreachThe Inkaba yeAfrica geoscience community has established a successful record of publicoutreach programs. For example Inkaba yeAfrica has featured on popular science radioprogrammes, and was represented with publicity stands and oral presentations at the lasttwo biannual INSITE Trade Fairs in Johannesburg (2006 and 2008). The Inkaba stand wasvisited by hundreds of school learners and members of the public. Inkaba yeAfrica open dayevents were held at the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory and the Hartebeesport RadioAstronomy Observatory. We intend to make annual events like this feature even morestrongly in the future.Inkaba yeAfrica in a pan-African contextIn its final year of Phase I, two specific events helped to underscore the growing interest inInkaba yeAfrica, in Europe and beyond, as well as in the wider region of Africa (e.g theSADC countries). First, the Vienna office of the United Nations acting on a GFZ initiative,offered to assist Inkaba yeAfrica engage with partners in South Africa’s neighbouringcountries. Accordingly, with UN funding, representatives from Botswana, Tanzania andMozambique successfully participated in the final Inkaba yeAfrica workshop in South Africa.This has laid new international foundations that will be further explored and expanded duringInkaba yeAfrica Phase II. Second, this last workshop was held in conjunction with theinternational conference of the SA Geophysics Association. The overwhelming interest byAfrican and overseas conference participants in the results of the Inkaba yeAfrica researchprovides a strong signal that there is global interest in the science and the scale andcomplexity of Inkaba yeAfrica, the integration of which sets it apart from most Earth scienceprogrammes globally.Whilst Inkaba yeAfrica aims at understanding fundamental processes of the extremecomplexities of Earth Systems, through measuring, monitoring, modeling, and experimentingacross a huge range of scales and rates, the Inkaba yeAfrica science teams are also takingon truly grand challenges of Earth Stewardship, through engaging with urgent socioeconomicneeds to meet the extreme complexities of sustainable development in our presentand future world. It is this latter human perspective that will be addressed even moresuccinctly by successfully attracting into Inkaba yeAfrica Phase II new well-establishedcommunities of experts both in South Africa and Germany that deal with the agriculture,forestry and biodiversity. These new development surely are proof that Inkaba yeAfrica hasbecome an innovative and dynamically evolving scientific enterprise with a growing numberof stakeholders.13

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