Detailed information about the course

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Sedimentological and Volcano-Tectonic Processes in the Afar, Ethiopia


22 January 2020 – 03 February 2020

Responsable de l'activité

Anneleen Foubert


Prof. Dr. Anneleen Foubert, UNIFR

Prof. Dr. Joel Ruch, UNIGE


Prof. Dr. Tesfaye Kidane, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South-Africa

Prof Dr. Balemwal Atnafu, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

Prof. Dr. Anneleen Foubert, UNIFR

Prof. Dr. Joel Ruch, UNIGE


Since the early days of the continental drift theory, the Afar triangle developed into a true field laboratory where the onset of continental and potentially future oceanic rifting can be studied in detail. The thinnest crust is present in the Danakil depression, the northern portion of what is known as the Afar triangle and where an active range of shield volcanoes occurs. This change in crustal thickness marks the basin morphology and the character of basin-fill morphology. Pre- and Syn-rift sedimentary series characteristic for an incipient rift basin are well-exposed at the basin margins and form huge evaporite deposits in the central part of the basin.

The field excursion 'Sedimentological and volcano-tectonic processes in the Afar, Ethiopia' will offer students the unique opportunity to get acquainted with the unique combination of sedimentology, rift tectonics and volcanology in an active rift basin. Excellent exposure and preservation conditions from pre- and syn-rift series in a transitional rift basin tuned by the juxtaposition of climatic, eustatic and tectonic changes will learn students the tight interaction between those processes. The Erta'ale shield volcano is unique and well-known for its basaltic lava lakes, giving the students a window into the Deep Earth. The excursion will be set-up to steer interaction between different disciplines in Earth sciences, going from magmatic petrology over volcano-tectonic processes to sedimentology.

Besides knowledge through observation, students will get trained in different field techniques (hands-on experience) taking an actualistic approach in sedimentology and volcanology. To foster the exchange between Swiss and Ethiopian early career scientists, the first day of the excursion will be dedicated to the organization of a seminar and workshop open for Swiss and Ethiopian PhD-students at Addis Ababa University. This will give the opportunity to Swiss students to present their research to Ethiopian students and vice-versa. Such intercontinental interactions are crucial in geosciences for steering in-depth research taking a holistic and global approach.


Day 1: Geneva - Addis

Day 2: Addis

- Visit Lucy Museum – Palaeoanthropology – The Craddle of Life

- Seminar and interactive exchange between Swiss and Ethiopian PhD students

Day 3: Addis – Awash Falls Lodge

- Stop 1: Bishoftu lake – Debre Zeit Craters 

- Stop 2: Pumice quarry 

- Stop 3: K'one volcano

- Stop 4: Beseka Lake 

- Stop 5: Fantale volcanoe – Fantale fissure swarms – Fantale tuff – blister caves 

Day 4: Awash – Semera

- Stop 1: Filweha hotsprings

- Stop 2: Interface EARS – RSR

- Stop 3: Mando Hararo rift

Day 5: Semera – Afdera

- Stop 1: Serdo village

- Short stop 2: Obsidian

- Stop 3: Quaternary basaltic flows interstratified with lacustrine sediments

- Stop 4: Hot spring carbonates Afdera 

- Stop 5: Lacustrine sediments Afdera

Day 6: Afdera – Erta'ale

- Stop 1: Gypsum microbialites Lake Afdera

- Stop 2: Kursowad station – preparation Erta'Ale

- Stop 3: Erta'ale summit

Day 7: Erta'ale – Hamedela 

- Transit

Day 8: Hamedela – Hamedela

- Stop 1: Coral Reefs (CO1 – CO4 – CO7)

- Stop 2: Older salt deposits in river valley 

- Stop 3: Microbialites and crusts

Day 9: Hamedela – Hamedela 

- Stop 1: Dallol Hot Springs 

- Stop 2: Visit potash mining company and solution mining

- Stop 3: Description evaporites in core sections central part of the Danakil Depression

Day 10: Hamedela – Hawzien

- Stop 1: Western margin of the Afar

- Stop 2: Mesozoic series 

Day 11: Hawzien – Mekele

- Stop 1: Adigrat Sandstones (vertical transect)

Day 12: Mekele – Addis - Geneva


Afar, Ethiopia




All expenses for CUSO members in Ethiopia will be covered.

The flight tickets need to be paid by the participants - if funds are available after the field seminar, a (partial) reimbursement of your ticket will be possible.

External participants can register only if places are available, but no expenses will be covered. An additional fee of CHF 320.- will be charged.


Registration is open until December 1st, 2019 to guarantee proper preparation and booking.



Deadline for registration 01.12.2019
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