Precambrian Basement of the Congo Basin and Its Flanking Terrains

  • Maarten J. de Wit
  • Bastien Linol
Part of the Regional Geology Reviews book series (RGR)


Africa’s four major Proterozoic shields were tectonically separated from one-another within the late Meso- to early Neo-Proterozoic Rodinia supercontinent along Rodinian mobile belts (‘Grenvillian’ in North America; ‘Kibaran’ in Africa; although, ironically, the type Kibaran rocks of Africa, now Karagwe-Ankole Belt in Rwanda and Burundi, have been found to be older and no longer define a Rodinian-age mobile belt. Following subsequent break-up of Rodinia, the four disparate African Shields welded together during the late Neoproterozoic to Early Cambrian amalgamation of Gondwana (ca. 500–800 Ma). The geology, geochronology and evolution of one of these Shields, the Central African Shield (CAS) is described here in some detail because it forms the basement to the Congo Basin (CB) that is the focus of this book. The CAS hosts both the world’s oldest (2.8 Ga) and youngest diamondiferous kimberlites and a number of complex Archean Cratons that outcrop along the flanks of the CB. The CB of central Africa is underlain and completely surrounded by peneplained Precambrian basement that spans a history more than 3.6 Ga, including rocks along its northeastern edge possibly as old as 4.0 Ga, separated and surrounded by numerous Paleo- to Neo-Proterozoic mobile belts. This Precambrian complex assemblage includes the peripheral (outcropping) Kasai, Cuango, Ntem, Bouca and Mboumou-Uganda cratonic blocks that can be assembled into three larger Congolese Cratons unexposed beneath the CB: the SouthWest-, the Cuvette- (or Central-), and the NorthEast- Congo Cratons (SW-, C- and NE-CC) and that in turn, together, constitute the Congo Shield (CS). Subsequently these three aggregated along the Central Angola Mobile Belt (CAMB; ca. 2.0–2.3 Ga) and the West Central African Mobile Belt [WCAMB; ca. 2.0–2.5 Ga to form the SouthWest Congo Shield (SWCS). In the east, the CS enlarged farther to form the CAS during the Proterozoic along Eburnian, Kibaran and Pan-African orogenic belts, but the details of the accretion processes of these continental domains remain uncertain.


Detrital Zircon Mobile Belt Central African Republic Precambrian Basement Congo Basin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



MdW would like to thank many colleagues from De Beers for facilitating and participation during a decade of his many long field escapes into Africa between 1995 and 2005; and BL into the CB in 2008. Both of us are grateful to Tsodilo Resources for supporting similar trips to Botswana. MdW acknowledges Sam Bowring (MIT) for precise U/Pb zircon dates (most of which still remain unpublished, but we are trying to do something about that) and Moctar Doucouré for his calm and diplomatic Africa advice and wisdom during our African adventures. We thank Bruce Eglington, Brendan Murphy and Mike de Wit for critical reviews. Some of this work was funded through the DST/NRF to AEON and Inkaba yeAfrica/!Khure Africa programs. This is AEON contribution number 134 and Inkaba yeAfrica number 107.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AEON-ESSRI (Africa Earth Observatory Network-Earth Stewardship Science Research Institute), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa
  2. 2.Geological Sciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa

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