42
The Transvaal Plateau Basin

This region contrasts with the Highveld by virtue of its lower elevation, warmer climate, distinctive vegetative cover and less advanced economic development. It is, however, a complex region in which geomorphological processes acting on differing geological structures and rocks of varying resistance have produced the characteristic surface features which distinguish its three major sub-regions - the Bushveld Basin in the centre, the Bankeveld surrounding it and the Palala, Soutpansberg, and Pietersburg plateaux to the north. The first mentioned is a remarkably level basin approximately coinciding with the Bushveld Igneous Complex, the Bankeveld comprises a series of ridges and valleys corresponding with the inward dipping Transvaal rocks, the Palala and Soutpansberg plateaux are level uplands developed over nearly horizontal Waterberg sandstones and the Pietersburg plateau is a peneplain cut across the Old Granite (Fig. 225).

The relationship of the sub-regions to one another is best appreciated in the light of their geomorphological evolution. Here the main features of the drainage first command attention.

The whole of the Transvaal Plateau Basin is drained by streams flowing to the Limpopo but the drainage pattern bears little relationship to the present surface features or to the underlying structure. The trunk rivers rise on the Highveld, enter the Bushveld Basin via narrow gorges cut in the surrounding Bankeveld, maintain with difficulty their flow across the central basin which they leave in further gorges through the highland rim and some of them finally trench the northern plateaux in order to reach the Limpopo.

It is probable that the Loskop and Waterberg sandstones once covered the central Bushveld Basin linking up the present outcrops in the northern plateaux with those south of Loskop Dam, but that they were removed in Middle Palaeozoic times and the norite and granite, thereby exposed. These were fashioned by ice movement during the Dwyka glacial period. Subsequently much of the area was buried beneath Karoo sediments and lavas. The evidence suggests that the present drainage was initiated on this Karoo cover (see ch. 1, p. 15) which sloped downwards towards the north and east. Hence from the west and centre of

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