Earth Sciences in Angola

A graduate student and a postdoctoral researcher in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, along with Professor Louis L. Jacobs, are conducting research in Angola in southern Africa during summer 2012. They are members of an international scientific program called the PaleoAngola Project, which seeks to discover and study Angola’s vertebrate paleontology and learn about the environment in which prehistoric creatures lived. Readers also can follow their work at paleoangola.org/

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First day in the field in Cabinda

An update from Scott and Ricardo:

After a brief stay in Luanda to procure the necessary travel documents, today was our first day in the field here in the northern Angolan enclave of Cabinda, which has some of the most exceptional fossil localities in lowland equatorial Africa.

We drove north to the town of Lândana, where we stopped to measure part of the stratigraphic section and collect fossils that were weathering out of the outcrop, including turtle, crocodile, and fish bones. We spent the rest of the afternoon looking for a way to access the outcrops farther south at Malembo Point.

Along the southern coast, the luxurious Angolan forest emerges, and our path to the beaches at Malembo Point was cut short by a thicket of lianas, bamboo and bushes. The cliffs in this area are very steep, and it appears that it may be a tough hike to get in and out, although the payoff will undoubtedly be worth the effort!

We tried once again to reach the beach using an alternate route suggested by a local hunter, but most of the rocks in this area are heavily weathered and converted to laterite, a type of soil that is abundant in equatorial and tropical regions, so we will need to look elsewhere near Malembo for “good” unaltered outcrop.

Tomorrow we will return to Lândana to finish our work there. One of our goals here is to describe the rocks in detail so that we can determine the type of environments in which they were deposited and provide important contextual information for the fossils.

Scott taking notes at Landana locality.

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