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LATE QUATERNARY MORAINES ALONG THE SEKHOKONG RANGE, EASTERN LESOTHO: CONTRASTING THE GEOMORPHIC HISTORY OF NORTH- AND SOUTH-FACING SLOPES

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT.

Considerable Quaternary environmental reconstruction for the high Drakensberg is based on geomorphological and sedimentological work undertaken along the northern aspects of the Sekhokong mountain range of eastern Lesotho. Given that no previous investigations have focused on the southern aspects, this paper documents the observed geomorphology and provides a more complete palaeo-environmental picture for this range. Data on the morphology, sedimentology and micromorphology for two linear debris ridges are presented. It is demonstrated that the two ridges are most likely moraines originating from a small niche glacier. The combined use of macro- and micro-scale sedimentology is proven to be an essential tool in ascribing a glacial process origin for the landforms, given the complex depositional history they have undergone. AMS ages obtained from the deposits (14 700 cal. yrsbpand 19 350 cal. yrsbp) places these in the time-scale of the Last Glacial Maximum. The study demonstrates rather contrasting aspect-controlled palaegeomorphological environments along the Sekhokong range, which is also reflected in the dissimilar contemporary biophysical micro-environments. It is suggested that the south-facing slopes were dominated by glacial processes during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), as is evident from the moraines, while the proposition for previously described north-facing glacial cirques is rejected based on the absence of erosional/depositional evidence and greater insolation received on these warmerequator-facing slopes. Rather, we propose that the observed north-facing hollows are a product of a multitude of geomorphic processes spanning several tens to hundreds of thousands of years.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0459.2009.00359.x

Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa 2: Centre for Micromorphology, Department of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2009

bpl/geoa/2009/00000091/00000002/art00006
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