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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Ugab Vingerklip

   

Ugab Vingerklip

The Rock Finger or Vingerklip (Afrikaans) makes for an impressive sight as you approach. This 35 meter high conglomerate monolith balances somewhat precariously on the top of a conical shaped debris mound.

Following the final breakup of the continent of Gondwana the western areas of Southern Africa were slowly pushed upwards increasing the gradient between the hinterland and the new sea level. For a period of about 20 million years the Ugab became a fast flowing and powerful river that cut its way through the Damara Mountains. The river carried with it the erosion debris of the earlier rock systems – gneiss, limestone, marble, schist and quartzite along with sand and silt. Eventually and over an extended time period a rise in the sea level and climate change saw the flow of the Ugab reduce to a level where the flow rate of the river was not sufficient to wash away its own debris. Over a period of millions of years the wide river bed began to fill with layers of varying sedimentary material. In times of high flood layers of boulders were deposited for vast distances along the river bed that in many places was several kilometers in width. During the times when a slower flow rate was experienced layers of silt and sand would settle over the boulder debris. These layers grew to be in excess of 100 meters thick. The waters that flowed were rich in dissolved limestone and this acted as a bonding agent that solidified the drying sand gravel beds into a hard conglomerate, and it was this mix that settled down and compressed itself into the rock material that would eventually form the Vingerklip.

Time marched on until about 2 million years ago when the sea level dropped again dramatically as a result of an ice again in the northern hemisphere. The resulting conditions saw the Ugab River once again scouring its way deep into its own bed. The areas where the conglomerates were softer eventually washed away leaving what are now referred to as the Ugab Terraces and the monument valley and Vingerklip formations.

The erosion on the east and south sides of the base cannot fail to impress upon you that this edifice is a most careful balancing act of nature, and as you walk around it you can’t help wondering as to when next a large chunk might next crumble away from the main body. In certain areas of the ancient bed of the Ugab River you can see the surviving edifices of the gravel terraces.

   
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