The Cape Fold Belt
is the folded sedimentary
sequence of rocks in the southwestern corner of South Africa
. It is related to the Ventana Mountains
near Bahía Blanca
. The rocks are generally sandstones and shales, with shales forming the valleys and the erosion resistant sandstones forming the parallel mountain ranges, reaching a maximum height at Seweweekspoortpiek
(Afrikaans: Seven Weeks Defile Peak) at 2325 m.
The rocks were laid down as sediments in a coastal delta environment upon the Malmesbury unconformity
in the Ordovician
Period (450 ma), with the folding subsequently occurring in the Carboniferous
periods during the merging of the supercontinent Pangaea
. Even though the mountains are very old by Andean and Alpine standards, they remain steep and rugged due to their quarzitic sandstone geology
making them very resistant to weathering
. The famous Table Mountain
is made up of hard rocks of the Peninsula Formation of the Table Mountain Group.
The geographic range of the Cape Fold Belt is from Cape Town
in the west and the Cederberg
Mountains in the northwest to Port Elizabeth
in the east.
The mountains, although mediocre in height by world standards, remain majestic and dramatic. This is due in part to numerous geological factors; The ranges usually have few to no foothills and rise directly from the valley floor. The mountain's base is usually at or near sea level.
The mountains are not particularly ancient, despite... Read More