GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 152-3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


GAINES, Sarah M., Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI 02882 and WALSH, J.P., Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island, 220 S Ferry Rd., Narragansett, RI 02882

The African continent hosts spectacular geology. Increasingly terrestrial geoheritage areas are being appreciated and protected for their uniqueness. Similarly portions of the marine realm should be recognized and preserved. Coastal and submarine Africa is actively being exploited for its fisheries, mineral and petroleum resources which threaten the character of the continental margins and beyond, much of which is still undocumented. Claims to the seafloor globally, and in Africa specifically, are still in flux. As leasing arrangements with extractive industries are being negotiated, it is an opportune moment to review and highlight seascapes of geologic significance for increased research and conservation.

In the oceans around Africa, eight Large Marine Ecosystems have been identified, primarily recognized for their biological productivity but also delineated based on bathymetry. Within these regions, numerous smaller marine protected areas have been created. While marine sites are underrepresented in global natural conservation designations, the intrinsic, interesting geologic nature of the marine realm can also serve as a motivating force for conservation. The goal of this study is to highlight and discuss especially notable marine geological areas whose geoheritage may warrant further study and protection, at the same time piloting an approach to be replicated in other regions of the world.

Some of Africa's most significant marine geoheritage areas include the Afar triple juncture, the Nile and Niger deltas, the Mozambican Channel, Agulhas Bank, the Congo Canyon and the extension of the Cameroon volcanic line to San Tome and Principe. The state of knowledge of these areas and other areas is discussed as well as potential impacts from human or natural processes. In addition, conservation and awareness-raising strategies are explored.