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Deep In Africa [EXCLUSIVE]

The first segment of each animation shows soil moisture from August 2020 through June 2022. The last portion shows forecasts for July through December 2022, including the next rainy season. Newly planted seeds and young seedlings are highly dependent on moisture at the surface (0 to 6 centimeters). Root zone moisture (down to 1 meter) is critical for long term crop growth: As plants grow and sink roots, they are sustained by moisture in deeper layers of the soil.

Deep in Africa

Since its discovery over two decades ago, the deep subsurface biosphere has been considered to be the realm of single-cell organisms, extending over three kilometres into the Earth's crust and comprising a significant fraction of the global biosphere. The constraints of temperature, energy, dioxygen and space seemed to preclude the possibility of more-complex, multicellular organisms from surviving at these depths. Here we report species of the phylum Nematoda that have been detected in or recovered from 0.9-3.6-kilometre-deep fracture water in the deep mines of South Africa but have not been detected in the mining water. These subsurface nematodes, including a new species, Halicephalobus mephisto, tolerate high temperature, reproduce asexually and preferentially feed upon subsurface bacteria. Carbon-14 data indicate that the fracture water in which the nematodes reside is 3,000-12,000-year-old palaeometeoric water. Our data suggest that nematodes should be found in other deep hypoxic settings where temperature permits, and that they may control the microbial population density by grazing on fracture surface biofilm patches. Our results expand the known metazoan biosphere and demonstrate that deep ecosystems are more complex than previously accepted. The discovery of multicellular life in the deep subsurface of the Earth also has important implications for the search for subsurface life on other planets in our Solar System.

Africa is the continent with the greatest genetic diversity among humans and the level of diversity is further enhanced by incorporating non-majority groups, which are often understudied. Many of today's minority populations historically practiced foraging lifestyles, which were the only subsistence strategies prior to the rise of agriculture and pastoralism, but only a few groups practicing these strategies remain today. Genomic investigations of Holocene human remains excavated across the African continent show that the genetic landscape was vastly different compared to today's genetic landscape and that many groups that today are population isolate inhabited larger regions in the past. It is becoming clear that there are periods of isolation among groups and geographic areas, but also genetic contact over large distances throughout human history in Africa. Genomic information from minority populations and from prehistoric remains provide an invaluable source of information on the human past, in particular deep human population history, as Holocene large-scale population movements obscure past patterns of population structure. Here we revisit questions on the nature and time of the radiation of early humans in Africa, the extent of gene-flow among human populations as well as introgression from archaic and extinct lineages on the continent.

Anatomically modern humans evolved around 300 thousand years ago in Africa. They started to appear in the fossil record outside of Africa as early as 100 thousand years ago, although other hominins existed throughout Eurasia much earlier. Recently, several studies argued in favor of a single out of Africa event for modern humans on the basis of whole-genome sequence analyses. However, the single out of Africa model is in contrast with some of the findings from fossil records, which support two out of Africa events, and uniparental data, which propose a back to Africa movement. Here, we used a deep-learning approach coupled with approximate Bayesian computation and sequential Monte Carlo to revisit these hypotheses from the whole-genome sequence perspective. Our results support the back to Africa model over other alternatives. We estimated that there are two sequential separations between Africa and out of African populations happening around 60-90 thousand years ago and separated by 13-15 thousand years. One of the populations resulting from the more recent split has replaced the older West African population to a large extent, while the other one has founded the out of Africa populations.

Another essential key component of the ADSR project consists in the deployment of 10 national experts, including five women, from African States within the Secretariat of ISA. The main objective of such secondments is two-fold. First, to build on existing capacity-building initiatives to provide national experts with technical skills on deep-seabed related matters. Second, to enable the ISA Secretariat to benefit from the contribution of such experts with a view to advancing specific tasks identified in partnership with the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC).

It would be premature to declare victory now, at a time when the AfCFTA free trade regime is not fully in place and some of its details are still unclear. Nonetheless, African countries have achieved a lot in the past decade as they move towards a comprehensive and deep FTA.

This road map for deep integration has two particularly significant features. Firstly, there is widespread consensus that most of the potential gains from the AfCFTA will come from the removal of non-tariff measures and other elements of deep integration. As services are subject to greater protectionism than any other aspect of trade and FDI, this is the area in which liberalisation can yield the largest economic benefits. And the removal of barriers to services prompts less trade diversion than the liberalisation of tariffs. Beyond such increases in economic efficiency, deep integration is associated with economies of scale, stimulus of investment, and greater competition and innovation.

Many African countries lack technical expertise and experience in deep integration. Therefore, by providing capacity-building in the form of exchanges of experiences and peer learning, the EU can work with these states to develop a joint understanding of how regulatory cooperation would benefit Africa. As African countries have sometimes perceived EPAs as imposing an EU regulatory model, the union will need to focus on cooperation that is useful for Africa (in areas such as cross-border transport, green energy, and digital trade) and capacity-building on various approaches to regulation. This would allow African countries to assess the benefits of adopting international standards, pursuing regulatory equivalence initiatives, and implementing effective certification procedures.

Mponeng extracts the Ventersdorp Contact Reef (VCR) of the West Wits region of South Africa. The deep underground mine employs a sequential grid mining method. The shaft-sinking process at Mponeng began in 1981 while gold plant complex and the shafts were commissioned in 1986.

The Driefontein mine, owned by Sibanye-Stillwater, is located near Carletonville in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. The mine lies within the West Wits Line Goldfield of the Witwatersrand Basin. It is currently the second deepest mine in the world with its depth extended up to 3.42km.

Operated by Harmony Gold Mining, the Moab Khotsong gold mine is located near Vaal River, South Africa. The mine is located approximately 180km south-west of Johannesburg near the towns of Orkney and Klerksdorp. It has been in production since 2003 and currently ranks as the fourth deepest mine in the world, with its mining depth ranging between 2.6km and 3.052km below the surface.

The Kidd Creek copper/zinc mine, located 27km north of Timmins in Ontario, Canada, is the fifth deepest operational mine and the deepest base metal mine in the world. The mining depth at Kidd Creek extends up to 3km beneath the surface. The mine is owned and operated by Kid Operations, a subsidiary of Glencore.

The mine uses longitudinal retreat and transverse open stoping methods to extract gold. Agnico initiated an extension programme at the mine to access the deeper part of the mine, which extended the mining depth to 3,008m below the surface.

The South Deep gold mine, owned and operated by Gold Fields, is the seventh deepest mine in the world. The South African gold mine extends up to 2,998m below the surface. Covering an area of 4,268ha, the mine is located 45km south-west of Johannesburg.

The deep underground mine comprises two shaft systems known as the South Shaft complex and the Twin Shaft complex. The mine switched from conventional mining to fully mechanised mining in 2008. The extracted ore is processed at a central metallurgical plant.

Located in northern Idaho, US, Lucky Friday is an underground mine containing silver, lead, and zinc. The mine is operated by Hecla Mining Company and is the eighth deepest mine in the world with its depth extending up to 2.6km.

Diamonds are sometimes described as messengers from the deep Earth; scientists study them closely for insights into the otherwise inaccessible depths from which they come. But the messages are often hard to read.

"It opens a window -- even a door -- to some of the really big questions about the evolution of the deep Earth and the continents," said lead author Yaakov Weiss, a geochemist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "This is the first time we can get reliable ages for these fluids."

Despite its early-stage, deep-tech pools across Africa have been experiencing growth over the past decade, especially driven by the development of new applications and the integration with existing products.

This report takes a closer look and evaluates the deep-tech ecosystem in Africa, summarizing the findings of the mappings of relevant stakeholders, identifies existing gaps, and provides a summary of the identified needs for supporting the deep-tech startups ecosystem in Africa. Here is the link to the report: 041b061a72


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