ABSTRACT

Along the easternmost edge of the Karoo–Kalahari Basin (KKB) of Botswana, the Toutswemogala Hill succession exposes a 30–50-m-thick suite of siliciclastic deposits interpreted by some as glaciogenic in origin tied to the Permo-Carboniferous Late Paleozoic Ice Age (LPIA). Six facies associations (FA) were recognized in this succession, resting unconformably on a highly uneven Archean gneissic basement, and consisting from base to top of: 1) clast-supported breccia made up of angular cobbles and boulders ubiquitously derived from the underlying basement, 2) well-bedded siltstones sealing or locally interdigitated with the underlying breccia, and bearing abundant remnants of Glossopteris sp. leaves, 3) a chaotic to faintly laminated matrix-supported diamictite bearing angular and subrounded clasts and tree logs attributed to the genus Megaporoxylon, 4) cross-bedded conglomerate bearing well-rounded quartz and clasts, 5) planar-laminated to ripple-laminated, poorly sorted, muddy sandstones showcasing dispersed mud chips that grade upward into 6) poorly sorted, cross-bedded coarse-grained sandstones displaying convolute beds and abundant imprints of unidentifiable tree logs.

No evidence of glaciogenic processes have been found in this succession, in the form of either pavement or clasts striations. The breccia and diamictite are interpreted as scree and mass-flow deposits, respectively. Along with the age of the deposits, inferred from the plant debris (upper Carboniferous to lower Permian), the stratigraphic position of this sedimentary succession resting on the Archean basement suggests that it corresponds to the Dukwi Formation, a stratigraphic equivalent of the Dwyka Group in the Main Karoo Basin. This would explain the resemblance of the facies to those recovered at the base of the central Kalahari–Karoo Basin and in the neighboring Tuli, Ellisras, and Tshipise basins. The absence of diagnostic criteria for glacial processes in the studied succession raises the question of the extent, in both time and space, of the LPIA-related ice masses over southern Africa and particularly in southeastern Botswana. It is suggested here that during this glacial epoch, spatially restricted ice masses were confined in bedrock valleys (valley glaciers) in an uplifted setting otherwise characterized by non-glaciogenic processes, further strengthening the scenario of fragmented ice masses over southern Gondwana.

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