Applied Geochemistry

Exploration for Cenozoic Fossil-Bearing Deposits in the Atbara-Valley, Sudan

East and Northeast Africa are world renown for the findings of hominins. Hominins have lived and evolved in the region for at least 7 to 6 million years. Over this period, also the climate, the flora and fauna and the landscape in the region has changed. These environmental changes were controlled by both regional and global factors, e.g. tectonic and topographic changes, varying Earth’s orbital parameters and during the Pleistocene by the glaciations of the northern hemisphere. Under which environmental conditions the hominins lived and how environmental changes have influenced their evolution however is only poorly known, in particular for the last 1 million years, and probably the least information on this exists from the Sahel and especially from Sudan.

To close this information gap, it is important to investigate sediment archives that document long periods of the Pleistocene and also contain fossils and archaeological finds. Such sediment archives exist in Eastern Sudan. In addition to the fossils and stone tools present in these sedimentary sequences, the sediments and above all the fossil soils (paleosols) contained therein are archives of the ancient climate conditions and ecosystems. This PhD project examines the sediments of the palaeontologically-productive Pleistocene alluvial sediments in the upper Atbara Valley in eastern Sudan, using sedimentological, mineralogical and geochemical methods to reconstruct palaeoenvironmental conditions during deposition.


DAAD, DFG, National Geographic Exploration

Project coordination:

Prof. Dr. Thomas Neumann (TU Berlin), Dr. Robert Bussert (TU Berlin), Dr. Faysal Bibi (Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin)

Project scientist:

MSc. Mosab Mohammednoor