Mesozoic Sedimentary Cover Sequences of the Congo Basin in the Kasai Region, Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Eric Roberts
  • Hielke A. Jelsma
  • Thomas Hegna
Part of the Regional Geology Reviews book series (RGR)


The Congo Basin represents one of the largest and least studied continental sedimentary basins in the world. The stratigraphy of cover sequences across the basin is poorly resolved and a somewhat simple stratigraphy has generally been applied with gross subdivision of the Mesozoic-Cenozoic cover sequences into a number weakly correlated units. Although these subdivisions are useful for broad, regional-scale correlations, investigation of drill cores and outcrop in the shallow, southern Kasai part of the basin, from Tshikapa to Kabinda, reveals considerable facies, provenance and thickness variations, suggesting a more complex depositional and stratigraphic history than previously recognized. This study now permits the subdivision of the sedimentary cover in the Kasai portion of the Congo Basin into five distinct depositional sequences consisting of (1) P1: Permo-Carboniferous glacio-lacustrine deposits correlative to the Lukuga Group; (2) J1: Jurassic-age arid to semi-arid laminated shales and siltstones and aeolian sandstones, interpreted as ephemeral lake and sand dune sequences with interspersed loess deposits and rare fluvial channel sequences (considered part of the historic Lualaba-Lubilash Supergroup—the lacustrine facies likely correlates with the Stanleyville Group, DRC and the Continental Intercalar Group, Angola); (3) C1 & C2: Lower Cretaceous locally heavy mineral-rich fluvial sandstone deposits and variably present basal conglomerate (correlated to the Loia Group, DRC and the Calonda Formation, Angola); (4) C3 & C4: Upper Cretaceous conglomerates of alluvial fan origin that grade upward into laminated shales and siltstones or well-sorted and rounded, fined grained sandstones representative of a semi-arid to arid depositional setting dominated by ephemeral lakes and small aeolian dunes, (equated to the Kwango Group, DRC and Angola) and (5) T1: fluvial, aeolian and lacustrine sediments of Paleogene age (correlated with portions of the Kalahari Group). The results convincingly suggest that this part of the Congo Basin is more structurally complex than previously appreciated, with multiple fault-bounded basement highs and depocenters that strongly influenced regional sedimentation patterns. Prolonged and sporadic displacement appears to have taken place along these faults, leading to heavily bisected basin morphology with uneven thickness and depth distributions between sequences. The deposition of Cretaceous sequences was coeval with two episodes of kimberlite emplacement, the first at ~120–130 Ma in northern Angola, and the second at ~70–80 Ma in the DRC, with gravel horizons within the Cretaceous fluvial successions (C1 and C3) known for their alluvial diamond concentration. The models developed provide a regional context for evaluation of alluvial diamond source areas and prospectivity.


Depositional Environment Early Cretaceous Late Jurassic Cover Sequence Detrital Zircon 
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.



We would like to acknowledge the exploration manager of De Beers Exploration for support in the research of the Congo Basin geology and for permission to present this work. Samantha Perritt is thanked for her contributions to our understanding of the geology of the region and Mike de Wit, Anthony Revitt, Mike Roberts, Mike Lynn, John Ward and Renato Spaggiari for valuable discussions over the years. Mike de Wit and Maarten J. de Wit are thanked for their valuable review contributions. Former joint venture partners MIBA, BUGECO and African Diamonds are gratefully acknowledged for permission to carry out research on the drill cores.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.De Beers Group Services, ExplorationSouthdaleSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of GeologyWestern Illinois UniversityMacombUSA

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