How Kloof Gorge was formed

2017-12-19 06:01
PHOTO: Kevin CollettGranite base of the gorge on the Molweni River.

PHOTO: Kevin CollettGranite base of the gorge on the Molweni River.

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HAVE you ever wondered how the Kloof Gorge was formed?

Krantzkloof’s breathtaking scenery is the result of deep incisions of the Molweni and Nkutu rivers - tributaries of the Umgeni - into the Kloof Plateau.

The plateau comprises erosion resistant Natal Group Sandstone which forms the reserve’s orange-red, iron oxide stained cliffs.

The sediments that form the Natal Group Sandstone were transported by the river systems which flowed from an active mountain belt to the north, about 490 million years ago.

At this time the Earth lacked plant cover and the oceans were dominated by faunas such as tribolites (extinct arthropods) and clam-like creatures as well as the ancestors of today’s sea urchins, starfish and corals.

Within the reserve we can see three types of rock - granite basement, Natal Sandstone and intrusive dolerites.

The granite basement is most visible on the Molweni river bed where massive smooth granite boulders provide striking river scenery

The Natal Sandstone is most visible on the vertical cliff-faces forming the gorge

The dolerite intrusions have mostly weathered and eroded to leave behind a number of stunning “cracks” often a few meters wide and up to 50m deep within the reserve the most notable of which is the “Nkonka Crack” on the forest trail

To understand and appreciate the geology of the reserve visitors need to observe the cliff-faces as they descend into the gorge and then observe the massive granite boulders on the river bed. Walking the trail will enable visitors to observe the cracks left by the erosion of the softer dolerite intrusions.

For a detailed article on the geology of Krantzkloof read the article in The Leopard’s Echo

- Kloof Conservancy

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