The Congo Craton, covered by the Palaeozoic-to-recent Congo Basin, is
Precambrian craton that with four others (the Kaapvaal,
Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and West African cratons) makes up the modern
continent of Africa. These cratons were formed between about 3.6 and
2.0 billion years ago and have been tectonically stable since that
time. All of these cratons are bounded by younger fold belts formed
between 2.0 billion and 300 million years ago.
Craton occupies a large part of central southern Africa,
extending from the Kasai region of the DRC into
Sudan and Angola. It
forms parts of the countries of Gabon, Cameroon, and the Central
African Republic. A small portion extends into
Zambia as well, where
it is called the Bangweulu Block.
1 Congo–São Francisco
1.1 West Congo Belt
2 See also
Craton and the São Francisco
Craton are stable Archaean
blocks that formed a coherent landmass until the opening of the South
Atlantic Ocean during the break-up of
2000–130 Ma). They stabilised during the Trans-Amazonian
orogeny and Eburnian orogeny and have been affected by a long series
of orogens since resulting in similar sequences on both blocks.
Congo–São Francisco experienced three large igneous province (LIP)
events at 1380–1370 Ma, c. 1505 Ma, and c. 1110 Ma.
The relative position of Congo–São Francisco within the
supercontinent Nuna/Columbia can be reconstructed because these LIP
events also affected other
Precambrian continental blocks. Within Nuna
the northern part of Siberia was located adjacent to western São
Francisco. 1110 Ma dyke swarms in
Angola are absent in Siberia
but coincide with the Umkondo LIP on the Kalahari
Craton and magmatic
event in the Bundelkhand
Craton in India, the Amazonian
South America, and the Keweenawan
Laurentia (although the
latter was located far from the other continental blocks). A series
of 1500 Ma dyke swarms also support the close relation between
Congo–São Francisco and Siberia: Kuonamka in Siberia and Curaçá
and Chapada Diamantina in São Francisco and Angola. These dyke swarms
radiate from a mantle plume centre located in what is now
north-eastern Siberia. Magmatic events in Congo (Kunene) and Siberia
(Chieress) at 1384 Ma also corroborate the closeness of these two
continents during at least 120 million years.
It is possible that the 1110 Ma LIP in Congo–São Francisco,
Amazonia, and India was part of a much larger event that also involved
Africa and Kalahari (with a possible but unlikely link to the
1075 Ma Warakurna LIP in Australia). However, while the
palaeo-latitudes of India and Kalahari are well constrained, those of
Amazonia and Congo–São Francisco are not, making any plate tectonic
At the time for the formation of the supercontinent
Gondwana at c.
550 Ma the Congo
Craton formed the already amalgamated central
African landmass. The southern and eastern margins (modern
coordinates) of this landmass was made of the Archaean Angola-Kasai
block and Tanzanian Craton. These proto-Congo blocks were deformed in
Eburnean orogeny but later stabilised.
West Congo Belt
Before the opening of the South Atlantic the São Francisco and Congo
cratons were connected by a "cratonic" bridge, the Bahia–Gabon
Bridge. The most recent orogenic event on this bridge occurred at
2 Ga, so the connection between São Francisco and Congo must
have formed during the Palaeoproterozoic. South of this cratonic
bridge the Araçuaí–West Congo orogen evolved in the Neoproterozoic
in a sea basin made of oceanic crust, an embayment in the São
The West Congo Pan-African Belt includes major magmatic events at c.
1000 and 910 Ma. In the Early Neoproterozoic, the western edge of
Craton was the location for the initial rifting of Rodinia
before its break-up. During the Neoproterozoic, Central Congo or
Bas-Congo became a passive margin on which was deposited 4,000 m
(13,000 ft) sediments. At the end of the Neoproterozoic,
Bas-Congo was only affected by the
Pan-African orogeny at 566 Ma
to a limited extent protected by this passive margin and by the
thickness of the craton. At 1000 Ma peralkaline magmatism
initiated an early transtensional setting along the western edge of
the Congo Craton. An LIP at c. 930–920 Ma was followed by
felsic magmatism between c. 920–910 Ma which had a short
emplacement interval and resulted in a 3,000–4,000 m
(9,800–13,100 ft) thick sequence. Mafic-felsic magma sequences
(6,000 m (20,000 ft) thick) on the western edge of the Congo
Craton are similar to those of the Paraná and Deccan LIPs, but in the
Craton the magma source became shallower with time. There was no
geodynamic activity along the western Congo margin during the
^ Ernst et al. 2013, Conclusions, p. 116
^ Pedreira & De Waele 2008, p. 33–34
^ Ernst et al. 2013, Abstract
^ Pisarevsky et al. 2014, Congo/ São Francisco and Siberia
^ de Kock et al. 2014, Other 1.1 Ga LIPs?, pp. 139–140
^ De Waele, Johnson & Pisarevsky 2008, Introduction, pp. 127–128
^ Babinski et al. 2012, Geotectonic setting, p. 452
^ Tack et al. 2001, Introduction, pp. 301–302
Babinski, M.; Pedrosa-Soares, A. C.; Trindade, R. I. F. D.; Martins,
M.; Noce, C. M.; Liu, D. (2012). "Neoproterozoic glacial deposits from
the Araçuaí orogen, Brazil: Age, provenance and correlations with
the São Francisco craton and West Congo belt" (PDF). Gondwana
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Moseki, L. M.; Fuchs, R. (2014). "Dykes of the 1.11 Ga Umkondo LIP,
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Rodriques, J.; Tassinari, C. C.; Teixeira, W.; Van-Dunem, V. (2013).
Mesoproterozoic intraplate magmatic 'barcode'record of the Angola
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1110Ma and implications for Nuna (Columbia) supercontinent
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Retrieved 7 May 2017.
Major African geological formations
Cratons and shields
West African Craton
Broodkop Shear Zone
Central African Shear Zone
Chuan Shear Zones
Foumban Shear Zone
Kandi Fault Zone
Mwembeshi Shear Zone
Todi Shear Zone
Western Meseta Shear Zone
Cape Fold Belt
East African Orogen
Terra Australis Orogen
Bahr el Arab rift
Blue Nile rift
East African Rift
Gulf of Suez Rift
Red Sea Rift
White Nile rift
Blue Nile Basin
Foreland Karoo Basin
Niger Delta Basin
Orange River basin
Ouled Abdoun Basin
Rio del Rey Basin
Somali Coastal Basin
Tanzania Coastal Basin
Central Pangean Mountains
East African mountains
Great Karas Mountains
Serra da Leba
Serra da Chela
Continents of the world
Possible future supercontinents
Mythical and hypothesised continents
See also Regions of the world