Geodynamics and mineral resources

The service carries out fundamental and applied research on geology, geodynamic processes, and natural resources (essentially mineral) in Central Africa and neighbouring regions.

We study the main lithological units (cratons, mobile belts, sedimentary terrains) to understand their genesis and behaviour over geological time (geodynamics), paying special attention to the formation of ore deposits.

We pursue a knowledge and skill transfer policy for universities and state-run services in geology and mining, particularly in DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda.

Staff

Scientific personnel

  • Thierry De Putter, Service head
    Geology and metallogeny of supergene mineral deposits, contribution of mineral resources to development
  • Daniel Baudet, Geologist
    Geology of Bas-Congo, geology of the Kasaï, geology of Kibaran terrains in the Rwanda and Burundi region
  • Damien Delvaux de Fenffe, Geologist
    Geodynamics of the Great Rift Valley and the Congo Basin, active tectonics and seismic hazards, petroleum resources
  • Stijn DEWAELE, Geologist
    Geodynamic context and metallogeny of mineral resources in Central African pre-Cambrian mobile belts
  • Max Fernandez-Alonso, Geologist
    Geology of the Kibaran belt (East DRC, Rwanda, Burundi)
  • Pascale Lahogue, Geologist
    Geology and urban hazards (Kinshasa, Bushimaye)
  • Jean-Paul Liégeois, Geologist
    Saharan geology, particularly the Tuareg Shield
  • Gérard Nimpagaritse, Geologist
  • Théodore Trefon, Expert in governance and natural resources
    environmental governance and development in DRC

Technical and administrative staff

Volunteers

  • Eric Hanssen

Emeritus researchers

Research

Our study areas are essentially located in the DRC (Kongo-Central, Katanga, the eastern part of the country) and the Great Lakes region (Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania). We also investigate the Tuareg shield (central Sahara).

Cratons and mobile belts

Our research seeks to increase the available knowledge on cratons (regions that have been stable for more than 500 million years), in particular in Central Africa and the Sahara, and mobile belts (regions that have never achieved geological stability) that surround them. 

We focus on the relationships and mutual interactions as well as the reactivations that have affected certain cratonic regions (metacratons), and which have often allowed the formation of large ore deposits through successive enrichments. 

History of the Congo Basin

We investigate this immense river basin, in particular the tectonic movements that structured this part of the earth’s crust over the last hundred million years. These movements led to major consequences, either on the formation of secondary deposits (supergene, oxidized), often very rich (e.g. Cu-Co in Katanga), or on the possible formation of deep oil reserves. 

Secondary ore deposits

We study the genesis of secondary, oxidized ore deposits, brought into contact with the atmosphere during the Cenozoic uplift of the basin’s southern and eastern margins, in connection with the opening of the Great Rift Valley’s western branch, some thirty million years ago.

Some of these deposits are world-class ones (notably copper and cobalt in Katanga). The impact of mining activity on public health in the province of Katanga or the Kivu region is also studied by the service.

Mineral resources

We study the production, trade, and consumption patterns of African mineral resources and their implications on how local societies function and develop, and on the global and transnational minerals market. 

Special attention is paid to the artisanal (and informal) mining sector in the Great Lakes region, the source of a quarter of the world’s supply of tantalum (used in the mini-capacitors of mobile phones) and a fraction (a few %) of the world’s gold. 

In a broader sense, the service also studies environmental governance in the DRC, that is, the body of regulation related to the management of the natural environment: agriculture, forestry, mines, oil.