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Leuvensesteenweg 13
3080 Tervuren - Belgium
Tel. (+32) 02 769 52 11
Fax (+32) 02 769 52 42


Earth Sciences

***While the museum building is closed for
renovation, scientific research continues at Tervuren.***

earthsciences2The department of Earth Sciences carries out extremely diverse geological and environmental research in a number of African countries - South Africa, Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Uganda, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

  • Geologists and geochronologists are particularly interested in the geodynamic nature of the African rift valley, the Congo craton, pre-Cambrian Saharan regions (more than 542 million years ago) and the creation of mineral resources. 
  • Cartographers use Global Positioning Systems and satellite imaging to produce many types of maps (geological, planning and development, risk assessments, etc.) and to survey the buckling of the earth's crust, especially in the Congo basin and along the rift valley. 
  • Experts in remote sensing quantify certain geological risks: CO2 emissions of volcanoes, the volumes of lava emitted by active volcanoes, etc. Furthermore together with tectonicians, they analyse movements of the soil associated with earthquakes.
  • In high-tech laboratories, geochemists analyse a number of chemical and isotopic parameters in rocks, soils, water and the biosphere. Using silicon isotopes in Archaen formations (3800 – 2500 million years ago), they study the impact of hydrothermal fluids on the origin of life and on sedimentation. They measure the variability of climates and the quality of the waters in Africa and Europe using biological recorders.  
  • Geomorphologists study natural hydrological risks caused by changes in soil utilisation by climate change and seismic activity.  They draw up risk assessment maps and examine sustainable prevention measures to prevent catastrophic situations.   

We transfer our knowledge to African society and to the scientific community through:

  • peer-reviewed, scientific publications
  • training courses for African scientists,
  • cooperation programmes with African institutions,
  • geological expertise for the public and private sectors,
  • promotion of the scientific work of Belgian and African students in the second and third years of university.


Also read the RMCA annual report 2016 (pdf - 15 MB) or a detailled report of the Earth Sciences departement (pdf - 1.3 MB).

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