Abstract

A revised lithostratigraphic framework for Mozaan Group-equivalent strata within the Nkandla sub-basin is presented based on new field data, remote sensing and genetic sequence stratigraphic interpretations. Although previous literature has suggested that no Mozaan Group lithologies were deposited within the sub-basin, reinterpretations presented here indicate that 90% of the lithostratigraphy developed within the main basin occurs within the Nkandla and Mhlatuze inliers. Mozaan Group units previously defined as the Vutshini and Ekombe formations are correlated with stratigraphy from the lowermost Sinqeni Formation to the Gabela Formation. Although thinner than units within the type area in the main basin, thicknesses of the Sinqeni Formation are comparable to those observed within the White Mfolozi Inlier. A ~1 000 m composite reference profile is measured within the Mdlelanga Syncline of the Nkandla Inlier. Further profiles were measured for sequences in the Gem-Vuleka Syncline of the Nkandla Inlier, as well as within the Mhlatuze Inlier. These latter profiles, however, host only lower Mozaan Group strata. In all sections the basal portion of the sequence comprises two quartz arenite units, separated by a ferruginous shale, which hosts minor iron formation interbeds. This predominantly coarse-grained lower sequence is overlain by a shale-dominated succession with multiple sandstone interbeds. A prominent coarse-grained quartz arenite unit forms a distinct marker in the middle portion of the sequence. This is overlain by a sequence of shales and sandstones with two prominent igneous units present. Genetic sequence stratigraphic interpretations indicate cyclical deposition of dominantly shallow marine sediments with condensed sections, marked by iron formations or ferruginous shales, denoting periods of marine highstand along the southeastern margin of the Kaapvaal Craton. The evidence of Mozaan Group stratigraphy within the Nkandla sub-basin supports a passive margin tectonic model whereby deposition occurred in an arcuate shallow continental margin which opened to the southeast. The extension of Mozaan Group strata into the Nkandla sub-basin suggests that the Mozaan Basin likely formed a single depository rather than separate sub-basins as previously proposed.

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