The Great Karoo Sea

Sutherland lies just beyond the Roggeveld and Komsberg mountains, in an area known as the Roggeveld. This central semi-desert region stretching over vast distances was once a huge inland sea.

400 million years ago, Africa was part of a landmass called Gondwanaland which connected Africa to South America, India and Australia. Over many centuries continental drift carried Gondwanaland gradually northwards until Africa split off from the rest of the landmass and the water expanses of the Atlantic and Indian oceans were opened up. Much of the southern region of the new continent of Africa was covered in ice sheets, but as Africa gradually drifted north the climate warmed up.

Over millions of years, icebergs and ice sheets ground rocks into layers of rock, sand and mud that settled at the bottom of the waters which covered the Karoo at that time. As Africa continued to drift northwards, temperatures rose and the Great Karoo sea silted up and dried out until it resembled the semi-desert we know today. 

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By: Bev Tucker | Published: 23/07/2009


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