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Geomorphic and Climatic Implications of Relict Openwork Block Accumulations Near Thabana-Ntlenyana, Lesotho

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Conflicting reports appear in the literature from geomorphic studies describing the colder Late Pleistocene environmental conditions of the Lesotho Highlands in southern Africa. Evidence is given for limited glaciation and/or periglacial conditions, with or without permafrost. An investigation of the distribution, morphometric attributes and surface weathering characteristics of relict openwork block accumulations in the area around Thabana-Ntlenyana, the highest summit in the range, supports the contention for a relatively arid periglacial environment during the Last Glacial period. A phase of enhanced block production is evident from the concentration of blocks in the upper layer of colluvium. Slope mobility on south-facing slopes is shown in the blockfield fabrics and the increase in downslope relative age of block surfaces. Block production and slope creep are attributed to depressed temperature conditions and seasonal freeze. Colluvium, within which blocks have been incorporated and superimposed, indicates that slope mantles predate the onset of the colder period and evidence militates against either deep snow cover or localised glaciation of south-facing slopes.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Publication date: 2004-10-01

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