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Activities:   * 2003               * 2004            * 2005        * 2006             * 2007


2003: Inaugural meeting in Gaborone, Botswana


The project started its activities  in Gaborone in 2003, where we organized an inaugural meeting to elect project leaders. The two-day meeting comprised of scientific presentations and discussions on the first day and an organizational business meeting on the second day. The meeting was attended by 28 full-time participants from 8 countries. The UNESCO fund was used to invite at least 6 African participants from Democratic Republic of Congo (1), Ethiopia (1), Namibia (1), Uganda (1) and Zambia (2) and arrangements for travel grants and subsistence allowances were made. At the inaugural meeting in Gaborone in 2003 it was decided that IGCP 482/489 should monitor and link-up with on-going projects in the EARS. To this end project drivers were identified and proposed. Furthermore, it was suggested to  prepare a series of proposals  for funding through collaboration within the network of scientists established under the IGCP 482/489 project. This was necessary to foster collaboration through launching of M SC and Ph.D. programs and also enable a general program of capacity-building cooperation between East African Universities.

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2004: International Conference on the East African Rift System” Addis

           Ababa, Ethiopia from June 20-24, followed by a US- AFRICA workshop

          (June 24-26, 2004) on “Anatomy of Continental Rifts:


In 2004 IGCP 482/489 in cooperation with the Ethiopian Geoscience and Mineral Engineering Association (EGMEA), Addis Ababa University, Geological Survey of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission and EAGLE organized  an international conference on  “ The East African Rift System” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from June 20-24, 2004, at the United Nations Conference Centre. In attendance were 125 participants from 17 Countries.


International conference


The Scientific Program of the conference consisted of Plenary Lectures, Symposia, Workshop, poster presentations and a pre-conference field trip which investigated the Nearly 40 research communications were presented at the conference on topics spanning from dynamic and geophysical modelling of EARS, to resource utilisation, and mitigation of hazards. All the abstracts are available on




Selected Papers presented at the conference are in press in two special volumes; namely, the

Journal of African Earth Sciences and the Geological Society of London, Special Publication

No. SP259.


Field Excursion

Twenty nine delegates participated in a three-day pre-conference fieldtrip, which explored the  Geodynamics of the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER). A classical area of continental rifting –Nazreth-Asela area up to Metahara. The Main themes of the field excursions were to study:

* the asymmetric geometry of the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER).

* the major rift forming structures.

* tectonics in the axial zone (Faulting pattern, extension fractures)

* recent volcanism along the axial zone (New crust) and possible dyking

* resources of the Lakes District; such as geothermal resource

and soda ash.

* climatic change indicators, such as Lacustrine Sediments in the rift

* understand paleo-climates and environment.

US- AFRICA Workshop

 Immediately following the International Conference on “The East African Rift System Evolution, Resources & Environment “A US- AFRICA workshop was organized (June 24-26, 2004) on the “Anatomy of Continental Rifts: the evolution of the East African Rift System from nascent extension (Okavango Rift Zone) to continental breakup (Afar Depression) “. The workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation. One anticipated result of the workshop was a written Science Plan detailing research opportunities, scientific targets and scientific methodologies for further study of the East African Rift System that can be used by NSF Program Managers to assess need in this area.

The Workshop Organizers include: Dr. Mohamed Abdelsalam (The University of Texas at Dallas, USA). Estella Atekwana (University of Missouri-Rolla, USA). Simon Klemperer (Stanford University, USA). Gezahegn Yirgu. (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia). Henri Kampunzu (University of Botswana, Botswana). Cindy Ebinger (Royal Holloway University of London, UK)

 Besides the preparation of the conference in Addis Ababa, IGCP 482/489 participated in the Colloquium of African Geology (organised by the Geological Society of Africa- GSAf) and hosted by BRGM Orleans, France.Some of our project members also participated in international meetings, like EUG, GSA, AGU-EGS, and IGC 2004.

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2005: International Conference on the “East African Rift System-EARS 05”Geodynamics,

         Environment, Resources and Sustainable Development”.


In 2005 IGCP 482/489 organized an  International Conference on the “East African Rift System-EARS 05”Geodynamics, Environment, Resources and Sustainable Development”.  The meeting took place between 16th to18th August 2005, at the Mkapa Conference Centre, at the triple junction of the eastern and western arm of the East African Rift System, Mbeya, Tanzania. The conference was dedicated to the late Prof. Henri Kampunzu.

 The conference mainly comprised of a series of presentations on various aspects of the geology of the East African Rift System, including geological and geophysical studies, geodynamical models of extensional processes, as well as resources and hazards pertaining to the East African Rift System, published in an abstract volume: East African Rift System-EARS05, Geodynamics, Environment, Resources & Sustainable development, edited by E.Atekwana, E. Embede and D.Delvaux.


Field Excursion


Pre- and-post conference field excursions were also arranged. These consisted of a  pre-conference field trip to the Rungwe volcanic province and Lake Nyasa (Malawi) basin, and a  post-conference field trip which combined excursions to Lakes Rukwa and Tanganyika Basin. A field excursions guide book updated by Damien Delvaux and Evelyn Embede was used to guide the field excursions.

Some photos from the field excursions are showm below. Please click on the photos for an enlarged view.The conference and field excursions were very successful and provided unique opportunities for participants to update their knowledge on EARS. The conference was attended by geologists from Africa, the UK, USA, Sweden, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. The conference was concluded by a business the Benjamin Mkapa Conference Centre



Kiwiri natural bridge of basalt lava

Massoko crater lake, drilling site for paleo-environmental studies

kyejo CO2 mud volcano

Kaporogwe waterfalls. Water falling from basaltic lava flows on top of red beds



2005: CAG 21 meeting in Maputo


 The next meeting of the IGCP 482/489 project will take place in Maputo as a part of the conference on the Colloquium on African Geology (CAG 21) in Maputo, Mozambique 3-5 July, 2006. At the Maputo CAG meeting IGCP 482/489 will be represented together with other international earth science organizations and scientific unions affiliated to ICSU. In addition, other organizations such as the Commission on the Geological Map of the World (CGMW), International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE), International Polar Year (IPE), International Geoscience Program (IGCP) will all be present!


Other Planned activities


Working groups are being set-up in the different sectors of the East African Rift System. These are being organized to facilitate the activities of IGCP 482/489 under the general direction of the five Leaders;  Genene Mulugeta (Sweden), Estella Atekuana (USA), Mtsoptse Modisi, Sebazangi(Democratic Republic Congo) and Jean Jack Tercelien  (France).

Four working groups are being established to coordinate activities and address the full range of processes governing EARS: These concern:

a) Afar, Ethiopian rift working group.

b) Eastern branch working group.

c) Western branch working group.

d) Southern Africa, Botswana working group.

e) International working groups.


The duties of the working groups are to mobilze support for IGCP activities in the sub-regions. Each working group coordinators can mobilize support by contacting authorities, with the flexibility to mobilize outside expertise as needed. Support to the activities of IGCP 482/489 by the working groups  may also be in the form of consultation, information sharing on publications, ongoing research activities, and authorship of reports. For example, the sub-regional working groups could assist IGCP 482/489 in organizing meetings, approaching private companies to attract funding. Geological Societies could also be of assistance in this respect. At the Mbeya meeting, project “Africa array” pledged to provide assistance in this respect. Each working group coordinators are expected to mobilize support by contacting authorities, with the flexibility to mobilize outside expertise as needed.


International Year of Planet Earth


The purpose of establishment of working groups  is also to facilitate participation in the activities of the International Year of Planet Earth (2005-2007). The International Year will support research projects within well defined  broad themes; namely, groundwater, Earth and Health, Resources, Deep Earth, Soil. Each theme is described in a separate brochure. See

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2007: Uganda meeting


The Ugandan delegation has tentatively accepted to host the 2007 meeting of IGCP 482/489 in Uganda. The group has already drafted the budgetary estimates for the conference and produced a draft of the first circular together with an accompanying  letter.  These will be distributed after the Maputo colloquium.

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