Abstract

During the early 20th century the term Insuzi Series, later reclassified as the Nsuze Group of the Pongola Supergroup, was proposed for a volcano-sedimentary succession exposed in the upper Nsuze River valley in central KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Subsequently, however, there has been little consensus on lithostratigraphic frameworks within the type area, and limited correlation with the exceptionally well-defined stratigraphy within the main Pongola basin. Recent mapping, combined with newly acquired high-resolution aeromagnetic data, satellite imagery, and available published geochronological data suggest that previously published schemes within the Nkandla sub-basin require revision. Utilising important regional marker units, as well as the stratigraphic positions of distinct sedimentary facies within the otherwise volcanic Nsuze Group, a working model is proposed. Lithostratigraphic units are well represented in the Mhlatuze and Nkandla inliers with examples from these areas given prominence. Where exposed, potential correlates within the Nsuze nappe complex are discussed. Within the proposed scheme the siliciclastic Mantonga Formation forms the base of the Nsuze Group, nonconformably overlying basement granitoids of the Kaapvaal Craton within the Mhaltuze Inlier. Mafic volcanics of the Nhlebela Formation overlie the Mantonga Formation in the inlier. These two lower units are, however, not exposed elsewhere in the sub-basin. The sedimentary White Mfolozi Formation forms the base of the succession in the Nkandla Inlier. Diamictites and stromatolite-bearing carbonate lithologies unique to this unit are utilised for regional third-order correlations with the type-area in the White Mfolozi Inlier. Mafic volcanics of the Agatha Formation overlie the White Mfolozi Formation in all exposures, but are most extensively developed within the Mdlelanga syncline of the Nkandla Inlier. Sedimentary and volcaniclastic lithologies of the Mkuzane Formation cap the Nsuze Group in the Mhlatuze and Nkandla inliers. Thickness of this formation is, however, highly variable having been subjected to pre-Vutshini Formation erosion. Through detailed reinterpretation of the stratigraphy of the Nkandla sub-basin we present a third order, (formation) scale, lithostratigraphic scheme encompassing all the formational units of the currently accepted stratigraphy within the main Pongola basin. This working model has the potential for lower-ranking units to be identified and be placed at their appropriate stratigraphic levels in future.

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