Scientific Drilling at Lake Tanganyika, Africa: A Transformative Record for Understanding Evolution in Isolation and the Historical Biology of the African Continent

Thematic Focus:
Agriculture, Biodiversity and Sustainability
Involved Countries:
Switzerland, Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

Received Funding By:

In collaboration with a large interdisciplinary team of international scientists including African collaborators, we propose to tap this unique historical record to understand how the ecosystems of both Lake Tanganyika and its surrounding watershed have developed.

Scientific drilling on the African Great Lakes has already yielded exciting scientific payoffs in the fields of paleoclimate and paleoecological research, by extending our detailed understanding of African environmental change over a million years. With a drilling project at the oldest African lake, Lake Tanganyika, we have the opportunity to vastly increase both the research scope and temporal duration of these records.

A deep scientific drill into the lake floor of Tanganyika will provide a climatological and environmental record that covers – in unprecedented precision – the entire time span of human evolution, starting from the human-chimp split, and in the very geographic region where this event has happened. Together, the paleoclimate and paleobiology part of scientific drilling in Lake Tanganyika covers three of the five focal areas of the University of Basel (life sciences: genomics, evolution; sustainability: environmental sciences; global studies: Africa).