Geological Background

Posted by on 2/20/2004 1:58:44 PM
Post Comment Geological Background Nigeria

S. W. Petters


Geology, the study of rocks, minerals and the physical make-up of the solid earth, determines the environment and natural resources and, thence also, the industrial potentials and wealth of a nation. After climate, geological factors exert, perhaps, the greatest impact on economic activities, since soils, water supply and vegetation are, to a large extent, influenced by the nature of the underlying bedrock.

The vast ocean margin that borders Nigeria to the south; the intricate drainage systems that sculpture the physical landscape; the mountainous eastern frontiers; and the wind-swept northern hinterland, with the great plains on the Saharan fringe, are all part of the sur- face geological features that bestow upon Nigeria its unique physical attributes.

It could, perhaps, perplex the ordinary mind that, whereas Nigeria exhibits bewildering cultural diversity, the landscape is a continuum in a seamless physical web that unites the physical entity termed Nigeria, regardless of political differences which are mere human artefact.

For example, the Niger-Benue drainage system, which has, over the long geological period of 55 million years, supplied sediments from the Nigerian hinterland for the construction of the petroleum-rich Niger Delta on the coast, has demonstrated the long-term impact of unifying geological processes in a nation with diver- gent human interests. Economic self-sufficiency is also feasible in Nigeria, where the diversity of rocks and mineral wealth, combined with cheap sources of renewable and non-renewable energy, create an enormous industrial potential.