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The Evolution of the Morphological Framework of the Central Namib Desert, Namibia, Since the Early Cretaceous

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The Central Namib Desert in Namibia is a hyper-arid area which was greatly affected by tectonic changes in the Early Cretaceous, associated with the opening up of the South Atlantic Ocean, continental fragmentation of West Gondwanaland and the movement of a major mantle plume (the Tristan Plume). These events led to the formation of a range of subvolcanic complexes – the so-called Damaraland Complexes – and to the deposition of flood basalts – the Etendeka Lavas. The Damaraland Complexes include some striking inselberg features of great size, including Erongo, Brandberg and Spitzkoppe. The Great Escarpment, which bounds the Central Namib to landward, is of uncertain age, but it appears to have experienced a substantial degree of erosion by the Late Cretaceous. The feature is rather less well developed and persistent in the Central Namib than elsewhere in southern Africa. It is probable that the Namib has been dry for much of the last 130 Ma, and there is evidence for aridity in the early Cretaceous and in the mid-Tertiary.

Keywords: accelerated soil erosion; epigene surface; etch surface; exhumed surface; palaeosurface; regolith; survival

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, 2: Department of Environmental Science and Geology, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana

Publication date: October 1, 1999


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