Monday, January 10, 2011


Happy New Year from Johannesburg, South Africa where we've just started the Colloquium of African Geology! Even though this is the 23rd CAG, this is only the 5th hosted in Africa and the first in South Africa. The CAG is the biennial meeting of the Geological Society of Africa. This year there are some 500 participants from 56 countries. South Africa is excited to kick off a decade of earth science including the IGC in 2016.

At the opening ceremony which was held at the University of Johannesburg's newly renovated Soweto Campus, we heard an excellent welcoming address from the South African Minister of Science and Technology, Ms. Naledi Pandor. She spoke at length about the different kinds of geological wealth in South Africa, including the Cradle of Humanity World Heritage Site, and asked the good question ' With all this wealth, why aren't we wealthy?' She talked about the need for geoscience to become a 'strategic science' for development both through supporting 'innovation and knowledge generation' and by making it a science for the public. It was an inspirational talk and a challenge for all young geoscientists to rise to a more dynamic and socially relevant future.

I attended a number of fascinating talks today during the scientific sessions on paleontology, anthropology and paleoclimatology in Africa - and the connections between all three from isotopes to bones to agricultural practice to landscape evolution! These presentations were part of a tribute to Prodessor P.V. Tobias who gave a closing plenary talk on the history of his career as an anthropologist working on human evolution, which managed to turn into a challenge for interdisciplinary curiousity-driven future research.

Fingers crossed we've worked out the bugs for the virtual components of the YES Africa Symposium tomorrow (the Minister and the President of the Geological Society of Africa both complimented us on this effort). Looking forward to meeting all virtual speakers and participants - as well as those in the room!

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