Abstract

We present a detailed structural and lithologic map of Robben Island, offshore Cape Town, South Africa. Robben Island is underlain by the Tygerberg Formation, part of the Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian Malmesbury Group of the Saldania Belt. The depositional setting and structural history of the Tygerberg Formation are poorly constrained due to limited outcrop and lack of previous structural studies.

Sedimentary structures are indicative of deposition at relatively high rates in a high energy environment and we concur with previous workers that deposition occurred on turbidite fan systems in a tectonically deepening basin. By comparison with active and ancient examples, we suggest that a forearc or trench slope, supra-subduction zone basin is a possible match to the setting of the Tygerberg Formation. However, limits on preservation and insufficient age data prevent comparisons in basin geometry and deposition rates which could be used to test depositional setting with more certainty.

Northwest-southeast striking subvertical pressure solution cleavage is pervasive throughout the exposures. Upright folds, with axial planes parallel to the cleavage, plunge 10 to 15° to the northwest or southeast with approximately 20° variation in trend azimuth. The folds are limited in along-axis extent and often occur in asymmetric pairs. Subtle bedding-parallel shear zones divide folds of different plunge directions. This pattern of folds is consistent with experiments and observations of en echelon folding during distributed strain associated with oblique transpression. This finding is consistent with previous studies of parallel, slightly earlier orogenic belts to the north (Gariep and Kaoko Belts) although our observations do not allow us to distinguish whether transpressional strain was sinistral or dextral. Sinistral transpression is considered more likely given the dominantly sinistral strike-slip history on the nearby Colenso Fault and the southward migration of collision along the western margin of Africa during the late Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian.

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