The African Continent

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Quick Facts about EARTH 106

Dr. Nyblade


Andy Nyblade, Professor of Geosciences


EARTH 106 : THE AFRICAN CONTINENT- THE GEOLOGY AND TECTONICS OF AFRICA Study of earthquakes and seismic waves to learn about the geology and plate tectonics of the African continent.

Earthquakes are natural phenomena that can cause immense human suffering because of intense ground shaking, and are consequently of great societal importance. Earthquakes are also important because the seismic waves that generate the ground shaking provide scientists with important information about Plate Tectonics and geology, in particular information about the structure and composition of our planet and how the insides of the planet are deforming. In this course, earthquakes in Africa and the seismic waves they generate are used to help you to learn about the geology of Africa and how the earth beneath the African continent is being deformed by Plate Tectonics.

This course was developed as part of a broad initiative called “AfricaArray,” a long-term (20 years) initiative to promote, in the full spirit of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), coupled training and research programs for building and maintaining a scientific workforce for Africa’s natural resource sector. The course is designed to help you understand fundamental geoscience concepts, including geologic time, plate tectonics, and the rock cycle. It also reveals the potential of Africa’s abundant natural resources, highlights their importance to sustainable economic development, and alerts us to the roles we might play as members of the scientific workforce that is needed to realize that potential.

Learning Environment

This is a "hybrid" course, meaning that we will have a reduced number of face-to-face class meetings (we'll meet only twice per week except as noted in the syllabus), with the remaining course activity taking place online in ANGEL. Weekly class meetings will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:20 - 1:10 p.m. in room 541 Deike.

Topics of Study

  • Lesson 1. Introduction to Earthquakes
  • Lesson 2. Introduction to Faulting
  • Lesson 3. Introduction to Plate Tectonics
  • Lesson 4. Introduction to Map Reading and Rocks
  • Lesson 5. Introduction to Minerals
  • Lesson 6. More on Rocks
  • Lesson 7. Volcanism
  • Lesson 8. Geologic Time - Relative
  • Lesson 9. Geologic Time - Absolute
  • Lesson 10. Earthquakes and the Earth's Structure
  • Lesson 11. Earth's Composition
  • Lesson 12. Mountain Building


This course is offered as part of the Open Educational Resources initiative of Penn State's John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. You are welcome to use and re-use materials that appear in this site (other than those copyrighted by others) subject to the licensing agreement linked to the bottom of this and every page.