US-Tanzania Planning Grant: Collaborative Research and Education at Olduvai Gorge and the Ngorongoro Volcanic Highlands, Tanzania

Project: Research project

Project Details


This planning grant will allow the PI and colleagues to develop an interdisciplinary, collaborative international program that promotes integrated research in the fields of geology and anthropology. It is anticipated that the proposal will be submitted to the Office of International Science and Engineering for the International Research Experiences for Students program.

The study area is the world-renowned Olduvai Gorge, which preserves a remarkably rich fossil record including hominid and stone artifacts, and the adjacent Ngorongoro Volcanic Highlands that produced lavas and volcaniclastics ranging in composition from basalt through rhyolite to silica undersaturated materials including foidites and carbonatites. The geological focus is on the genesis of volcanic landforms and products, and the anthropological emphasis is on the relationship between man and the environment, including structural geology, modern cultures and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. In this planning visit the team will (1) Meet on site with Tanzanian colleagues and (2) Evaluate specific research and training activities. Activities include mapping volcaniclastic deposits within Olduvai, exploring differences among products of regional volcanoes, and visiting modern geomorphological and tectonic environments and human communities that provide close analogues to those of our earliest ancestors.

One important feature of this program is the interaction between scientists representing structural geology, volcanology and geochemistry, and human anthropology. Professionals in these fields must interact and rely upon one another, but cross-disciplinary training is typically lacking in the respective curricula. This project represents a collaboration between scientists in the US, Kenya and Tanzania. The US team is led by Tanya Furman, Godwin Mollel (Penn State University) and Carl Swisher (Rutgers), who have expertise in volcanology, geochemistry, geodynamics and geochronology. Makenya Maboko, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Isaac Marobhe, Geology Department Chair (University of Dar es Salaam) will help select qualified students, and senior lecturer Crispin Kinabo will collaborate on volcanic geochemistry. Evelyn Mbede, Director for the Tanzania Ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology has expertise in rift tectonics and will be in the field throughout the project.

Effective start/end date7/1/086/30/09


  • National Science Foundation: $10,000.00


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