Deposit Velocity and Its Significance

By George Gravy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
ENVIRONMENT

MOST of northern Morocco is mountainous. The dominant surface feature is the Rif mountain chain, which curves in a great are from the Strait of Gibraltar to the hills of Aith Said.1 The main artery of east-west traffic in Morocco is the Taza corridor, south of the Rif chain (fig. 1). The important north-south routes run along the Atlantic coast or follow the valley of Wad Moulouya. Innumerable ridges lead to the Mediterranean, but that coast has few beaches and little shelter. The exposed and straight Atlantic coast is even more hostile to maritime life. Enclosed within the bounds of a rugged mountain range and inhospitable coasts, most of northern Morocco is isolated. The narrow valleys and ridges of the Rif chain "form a secluded mountain region, difficult of access, which at all times enabled its Berber inhabitants to keep their necks free of foreign yoke."2.


THE RIF CHAIN

The Rif chain consists of a series of arcs, pierced by gorges trending at right angles to the main structural lines (fig. 4). The northern versants of these arcs have undergone extreme dissection. Streams fed by heavy rainfall have cut deep canyons, and most interfluves are narrow, knifelike ridges. The overlapping folds of this chain are similar to those of the alpine mountains in Europe, notably the Sierra Nevada, with which the Rif was joined in early Tertiary time.3.

Geologists divide the Rif into three zones (fig. 5):

1. A zone of metamorphic rocks, mainly of Palcozoic age, flanks the coast from Ceuta to Puerto Capaz. This zone constitutes the southern flank of the Betico- Rifian massif, which was broken into two segments when the Strait of Gibraltar was formed. Although countless navigators have viewed this coast, it is scientifically one of the least-known segments of the Mediterranean littoral.

2. A zone of calcareous rocks is mostly of Tertiary age. Its terminal point is Jbil Musa, one of the Pillars of Hercules. From Jbil Musa a high wall of limestone runs southeastward to Shawen, curves to the sea, and then reappears as the Karstic highland of Ibuqquyen. Several peaks exceed 1,000 meters in elevation, and Jbil Tisuka and Jbil Leshab are slightly more than 2,000 meters high. The structural break at Tetuán is the only gap in the wall. The gorge cut by the antecedent Wad Lao is too narrow to be used as a trade route. Most of this range is a formidable barrier.

3. A broad zone of younger sedimentary rocks is schistose for the most part, but includes some strata of sandstone. The formation name "Flysch" has been

____________________
1
"Rif" is used here in the popular sense to refer to the mountainous area of northern Morocco. In Maghribi Arabic er-rif means a fertile or cultivated zone on the banks of a river, along a coast, or on the edge of a desert. It can be translated also as "margin" or "fringe."
2
Theobald Fischer, "Marokko: eine länderkundliche Skizze", Geog. Zeitschr., 9 ( 1903), 67
3
The best geological map of northern Morocco is the Bosquejo geológico de la zona del protectorado espaftol ( Madrid: Comisión de Estudios Geológicos, 1952). Brief accounts of the physical geography of the area appear in "Maroc septentrional", Livret-guide des excursions A 31 et C 31, Congrès Géologique International ( Rabat, 1952); Horst Mensching, Marokko: die Landschaften im Maghreb ( Heidelberg: Keyersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1957), pp. 148- 154; and G. Maurer, "Les pays rifains et prérifains", L'Information Géographique, 23 ( 1959), 164-171

-12-

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Deposit Velocity and Its Significance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents *
  • Chapter I - INTRODUCTION: THE "NORTHERN ZONE" 1
  • Chapter II - ENVIRONMENT 12
  • Chapter III - CULTURE HISTORY PRIOR TO EUROPEAN INTERVENTION 32
  • Chapter IV - EUROPEAN INTERVENTION 55
  • Chapter V - SETTLEMENT MORPHOLOGY 65
  • Chapter VI - LIVELIHOOD 78
  • Chapter VII - EFFECTS OF SETTLEMENT ON THE LAND 95
  • Chapter VIII - SUMMARY 117
  • Appendix - VARIANT SPELLINGS OF PLACE AND LINEAGE NAMES 121
  • PLATES 123
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