12.453 | Fall 2005 | Graduate

Crosby Lectures in Geology: History of Africa


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session


Permission of instructor.


This course is about African history. The basic theme is the distinctiveness of the African continent in both the way that it originated 600 million years ago and in the way that it has developed ever since.

The topics include:

  1. The Unique Character of the African Continent.
  2. The Panafrican Orogeny: How the African Continent was first constructed during the Final assembly of Gondwana (c.650-520 Ma).
  3. Africa’s Response to the Panafrican Continental Collisions as recorded in the deposition of huge sandstone bodies during Cambro-Ordovician times (between ca.520 and ca.440 Ma).
  4. A short-lived glacial episode, continuing subsidence in the giant Afro-Arabian composite steer’s horns basin and the effects within Gondwana of the assembly of Laurussia (440-310 Ma).
  5. Gondwana’s collision with Laurussia to form the short-lived Great Continent of Pangea and how the effects of that collision were felt in Africa and elsewhere (310-200 Ma).
  6. Geodynamic evolution: How Pangea has broken up over the past 200 My with the successive isolation of three continents embodying African crust: Residual Gondwana, Afro-Arabia and Africa.
  7. African geology while it was a part of Residual Gondwana (c.180 Ma-125 Ma). Responses to the eruption of the Karroo plume (183 Ma) and the Tristan plume (133 Ma). Formation of oceans off the bulge of Africa (the Central Atlantic), the east coast (The Indian Ocean) and the north coast (Modifying Neotethys).
  8. The Afro-Arabian plate (125 Ma- 30 Ma). The development of the South Atlantic Ocean.
  9. The eruption of the Afar plume at 30 Ma. The pinning of the African plate and its diverse consequences.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2005
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes