Overview of AfricaArray
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Overview of AfricaArray AfricaArray Science Broader Impacts Milestones Next steps Discussion/questions/feedback. AESEDA Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering and Development in Africa. October 2003 Kick-off Symposium Paul Dirks, Head, School of Geosciences

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AESEDAAlliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering and Development in Africa

  • October 2003 Kick-off Symposium

  • Paul Dirks, Head, School of Geosciences

    University of the Witwatersrand, S. Africa

  • Oil company reps - workforce issues, lack of well trained African scientists

  • Discussions about new seismic projects (Angola, Uganda, South Africa)


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AfricaArray: Training a Scientific Workforce for Africa’s Natural Resource Sector (White paper, November 2003)Workshops Wits, Feb. 2004 Houston, May 2004 Wits, July 2004Target launch date January 1, 2005

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  • Establish a unique in-situ geophysics training and research program to help build a scientific workforce

  • As part of this training and research program, create a shared scientific facility (broadband seismic network, GPS) to promote education, research, and community building in geophysics

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How will AfricaArray achieve these goal?

AfricaArray will tightly couple education and research programs in geophysics with recording stations (seismic intially) across Africa over a 20 year period for:

  • In-situ training of a new generation of African scientists,

  • developing facilities within African institutions,

  • promoting community building among African scientists,

  • increasing basic knowledge of earth structure.

    “AfricaArray” = array of stations + array of training programs + array of research projects + array of partnerships and collaborations

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AfricaArray will be implemented in 3 phases

Phase 1 (years 1-3, starting Jan. 2005)

  • the geophysics program will be improved and expanded at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, to provide BSc, MSc and Ph.D. degree training

  • seismic stations will be installed or upgraded in participating countries as part of a permanent “backbone” seismic network

  • train technical personnel how to operate and maintain seismic stations

  • data from the seismic stations will be used for student thesis research

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AfricaArray Implementation

Phase 2 (years 4-6) & Phase 3 (years 7-10)

  • Expand training programs

  • build centers of excellence in geophysics at other universities

  • Expand network of permanent seismic stations

  • “flexible” seismometer arrays will be installed

  • Develop outreach programs

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Degree Training Program at Wits(oil and mining company interests)

  • Degrees (US/European standard training in Africa)

    • BSc (geology with physics; 3 yrs)

    • BSc Honours (geophysics; 1 yr)

    • MSc (geophysics; 2-3 yrs)

    • Ph.D. (geophysics; 4-6 yrs)

  • Fee structure -- no buy-in costs; research support included in fee structure

  • Sandwich program for MSc and Ph.D. students - spend up to 6 months/yr at US or European University

  • 2005: 10 BSc students; 1 MSc; 2 Ph.D.

  • Students come from 5 African countries

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Recent improvements in training program

  • Added to part-time staff (faculty)

    • Seismic reflection and mine seismology

    • Ground penetrating radar

  • Sandwich program set up for MSc and PhD students (4 U.S. universities; 2 European universities)

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Data Policy for AA stations(as per July 04 workshop)

  • Data from AfricaArray stations must be archived at the IRIS DMC

  • Data can be archived at other data centers at the same time

  • Data must be made open after a set period of time (2 years probably)

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HOW is Geophysics relevant to the development of Africa


  • In her opening address THE MINISTER mentioned the high cost to South Africa of oil and gas imports. She challenged the audience to:

    • Assist in making new oil & gas discoveries

    • Promote mineral exploration

    • Promote mine safety issues

    • Promote man power development

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Endorsement by Minister Ngcuka


Minister Ngcuka specifically endorsed AfricaArray and mentioned it as:

‘an example of a

collaborative project

worthy of support’.

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  • School of Geosciences, University of Wits ($900K)

  • Council for Geoscience ($800K)

  • Penn State University ($20K)

    ($1.7 M in-kind support)

  • Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS)

  • Countries: South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, DRC, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Angola, Nigeria

  • Participating educational and government organizations

  • Many universities in Africa and the U.S.

  • Many geological surveys Africa

    growing quickly

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  • Establish a PUBLIC-PRIVATE funding partnership

    Funding Agencies:

    Public: NSF, DOE, USAID, NRF, DST, DME,other government organizations

    Private: foundations, Multinational corporations working in Africa (primarily oil and mineral)

    Funding Partners (so far):

    Private: Schlumberger, ISSI, CSIR/MiningTek, ExxonMobil, Mineral Education Trust Fund (S. Africa)

    Public: NSF, NRF

    GOAL: $2.7M for Phase 1

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Science Objectives

  • Theme “4D Imaging of the African Crust and Mantle”

    • many geological targets of economic, academic and societal interest

      • extremely old (Archean) to very recent (active faults),

      • very large (sub-continental scale) to very small (individual faults within a basin or intrusive complex)

      • very deep (lower mantle) to very shallow (near-surface aquifers).

        AfricaArray science will investigate a wide range of targets spanning much of geologic time and many spatial scales using data from the AfricaArray scientific observatories, plus geophysical, geochemical, and geological data available from other sources.

        AfricaArray science encompasses all geophysics, not just seismology

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Imaging the African Superplume

  • Largest seismic anomaly in the mantle

  • The largest flow structure in the mantle

  • Poorly imaged with current seismic data due to limited ray coverage

  • Structure may hold the key to unraveling the nature of convection in the mantle

  • Improving the seismic images of the superplume is difficult without additional data

  • AfricaArray is positioned to provide the definitive seismic data set for imaging the superplume

  • NSF funding

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Projects under development

  • Imaging the Bushveld Complex (David James, Matt Fouch, Univ. of Wits)

  • Imaging the deep structure of the Congo Craton (Nyblade and diamond exploration companies)

  • Lithospheric structure of African basins (Nyblade and ExxonMobil)

  • Structure and tectonics of the SW East African rift system (Belgium lead)

  • Structure, tectonics and uplift of the Ruwenzori Mts., Uganda (Germany lead)

  • Structure of the Wits basin (S. Africa lead)

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Broader Impacts

  • Enhancing diversity in the Geosciences

    • History -

      • Mining Charter Act and pressures within South Africa to train students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds

      • How does AfricaArray address this problem?

        Solution: Summer geophysics field course to introduce science, engineering and math students to geophysics

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Broader Impacts (cont.)

  • Links to NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development). AfricaArray has been well received by NEPAD officials.

  • Tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean. AfricaArray is well positioned to provide critical data.

  • Vehicle to further cooperative research: A model that can be easily adapted to other science and technology fields

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  • AfricaArray is up and running in just 1 year!

  • Three successful workshops in 2004

  • High visibility at NSF: presentation to GEO January 24, 2005

  • High visibility within South Africa: NRF, NEPAD, DME

  • High visibility within science community: news article in NATURE

  • Web site launched end of 2004

  • First AA students at Wits, January 2005

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A few next steps…..

  • First data to IRIS DMC within a few weeks

  • New stations in: Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi

  • Fund raising: SEG Foundation, Oil company foundations, mining companies, AID organizations

  • Tsunami warning system for Indian Ocean?

  • Set up an advisory board

  • Develop further the governance structure

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Workshop goals

  • to provide information about AfricaArray to interested parties;

  • to encourage participation in all aspects of AfricaArray by European scientists;

  • to define short-time strategies for improving the AfricaArray seismic network through collaborations with European scientists and network operators;

  • to define long-term strategies for obtaining funding and other forms of support for AfricaArray from European organizations and companies.

  • Workshop product: A report that includes specific action items addressing goals 3) and 4).

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  • Informational talks on networks and data management

  • Working group assignments - answer specific questions

  • WG leaders report back to whole group

  • Group discussion of WG recommendations

  • Draft report with action items