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Meiringspoort - Geology

 

Meiringspoort is the spectacular final product of geological processes that have taken place over more than 200 million years. Here it is clear how the sandstone layers of the Cape Mountains were lifted up, pleated and folded back and forth. This can be seen throughout the drive through Meiringspoort.

 

Terrestrial forces, greater than we can imagine, created an impressive home for a wide variety of living organisms in this area. Meiringspoort took shape about 250 million years ago when Africa was still part of a larger continent. Africa, Australia, South America, Antarctica and India were known as Gondwanaland. An inland mountain range was formed by lateral forces which pushed against each other gradually heaved up layers of rock. At first, water from this old mountain range drained towards the north. The streams cut ravines into the northern slopes of the mountain range. About 100 million years later, Gondwanaland broke up and the adjacent continents began to drift away.

 

The rock formations of the mountain range toppled to the south. New rivers formed ravines in a southerly direction. Another 120 million years later, the mountain range was heaved up again, causing streams to cut deeper ravines in the mountain. The gradual distortion and upheaval of the earth’s crust formed the Swartberg range, with Meiringspoort ravine cutting through it. 

 

Folded rock formations of the Swartberg Photo: Winfried Bruenken (Amrum)Folded rock formations of the Swartberg Photo: Winfried Bruenken (Amrum)

 

Folded rock formations of the Swartberg   Photo: Winfried Bruenken (Amrum) 

 

At least three different formations of the Table Mountain Sandstone group are visible near the waterfall. The Tchando formation at the top, a narrow shale band of the Cederberg formation lower down and below it, is a much folded cliff which consists of a 75 meter layer of Peninsula sandstone. These different formations differ in drainage pattern, the degree of eroding ability and nutrient content. Different plants and animal species occur on each of them. The variation in the geology is one of the reasons why such a great diversity of plants and animals occur in this region. It is important to note that the road in Meiringspoort crosses the same ravine in 25 places. The so-called drifts.

 

FOLLOW THESE LINKS FOR INFORMATION ON  MEIRINGSPOORT'S 

GEOLOGY   FLORA    FAUNA   THE DRIFTS   THE GREAT WATERFALL 

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