Duricrust development and valley evolution: Process–landform links in the Kalahari

David J. Nash, Paul A. Shaw, David S.G. Thomas

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Duricrusts are an important landscape component of the Kalahari region of central southern Africa. Their exposures within the dry valleys (mekgacha) of the Kalahari provide some of the most widespread surface outcrops of the terrestrial Jurassic to Holocene Kalahari Group sediments. Exposures have been extensively used in the construction of lithostrati‐graphic sequences, on the assumption that valley systems have incised their courses through a pre‐existing duricrust sequence. Recent work, however, has identified the role of groundwater erosion processes in valley development, which may have influenced duricrust formation. Studies of duricrusts from boreholes drilled within two mekgacha show that duricrust type is intrinsically related to the presence of a valley. Analyses of calcretes and silcretes in a series of profiles and thin sections from the Letlhakeng area of Botswana also indicate extensive alteration and diagenesis in association with former higher water tables. Sedimentary sequences within duricrust host materials can be identified but there is no evidence for correlation of duricrust cements between exposures. Profile studies from the Auob Valley in Namibia, however, suggest that this valley has incised through a sequence of duricrusts. Caution is advised in future attempts to correlate duricrust types on the basis of valley exposures, with the recommendation that where such exposures are used in a lithostratigraphic context, only duricrust host material characteristics and not cementing materials should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-317
Number of pages19
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994


  • Dry valleys
  • Duricrusts
  • Groundwater weathering and erosion
  • Kalahari


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