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The Geology of Victoria Falls


| Victoria Falls in Africa is the result of hundreds of millions of years of geological activity. The main bed of the river is a basalt “island” formed 180 million years ago by successive waves of volcanic eruption. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Geology of Victoria Falls

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Discovering Victoria Falls
  • Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the
    smoke that thunders), is one of the most
    impressive natural wonders on the African
    continent. The site is the result of millions of
    years of geological evolution and tectonic
    shifts, the history of which reveals much about
    the development of the world as we know it today.

Victoria Falls Quick Facts
  • Victoria Falls stands at 108 meters tall and
    1,708 meters wide.
  • It is located on the border of Zambia and
    Zimbabwe in southern Africa, along the path of
    the Zambezi River.
  • The mist cloud from the falls can be seen as far
    as 48 kilometers away!

In the Beginning
  • The foundational bedrock of Victoria Falls is
    made of basalt, a dark volcanic rock that was
    formed around 180 million years ago. Over
    millions of years of volcanic eruptions, lava
    cooled into layers of basalt, which were then
    covered by new layers of lava. This process
    repeated many, many times over.

An Island of Stone
  • This ancient volcanic activity created a
    200-kilometer basalt island in the surrounding
    sandveld (land characterized by dry, sandy soil).
    In the area around Victoria Falls, this basalt is
    up to 300 meters thick. As the land shifted,
    giant cracks known as joints appeared in the
    rock, and were filled in by softer, clay-like

The River Runs Through It
  • When the basalt first formed, the area of
    Victoria Falls was a river-less desert. As the
    land continued to shift, water and tropical
    vegetation began to move in and change the
    landscape. Eventually, a massive continental
    shift caused the creation of the Zambezi River,
    which began to flow over the giant joints in the
    basalt and erode the clay sediment built up

The Big Spill
  • What we know as the Zambezi River was originally
    two rivers that werent connected. 10 to 15
    million years ago, geological upheavals shifted
    the land once again, causing the two rivers to
    combine into the modern Zambezi. This would
    create the conditions necessary for the formation
    of Victoria Falls.

A Faulty Theory
  • For many years, it was incorrectly believed that
    Victoria Falls was created as the result of a
    fault line opening up in the path of the river.
    This theory was first presented by Dr. David
    Livingstone, the famous explorer who was the
    first European to see the falls, and who named
    them after Queen Victoria.

A Long History
  • Victoria Falls is not the first giant waterfall
    in the area. Though the current falls are
    believed to be between 100,000 and 250,000 years
    old, there were at least seven waterfalls of
    comparable size that formed in the area in the

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