Zimbabwe

Geography

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa lying wholly within the tropics. The country is bordered by Botswana in the southwest, Zambia in the northwest, Mozambique in the east and northeast, South Africa in the south and meets Namibia at its westernmost point. It has a total area of 390,580 km², of which 3,910 km² comprises lakes and reservoirs. Much of Zimbabwe is an extensive high plateau with higher central plateau (high veldt) forming a watershed between the Zambezi and Limpopo river systems which define the borders with Zambia and South Africa respectively.  The eastern end of the watershed terminates in a north-south mountain spine, called the Eastern Highlands where the highest peak, Mt. Nyangani (2592 m) is located. The country is divided into six drainage basins of which the largest are the Zambezi and the Limpopo. The eastward-flowing Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa and Lake Kariba is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. The most spectacular feature along its course is the Victoria Falls which is located at the boundary between the upper and middle Zambezi. The Kariba dam provides hydroelectric power for much of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Geology

Zimbabwe is underlain by a core of Archean Basement known as the Zimbabwe Craton, which is intruded by the famous Great Dyke, a SSW-NNE-trending ultramafic/mafic complex. The Craton is bordered to the south by the Limpopo Belt, to the northwest by the Magondi Supergroup, to the north by the Zambezi Belt and to the east by the Mozambique Belt. The Craton is principally composed of granitoids, schist and gneisses and incorporates greenstone belts comprising mafic, ultramafic and felsic volcanics with associated epiclastic sediments and iron formations. It is overlain in the north, northwest and east by Proterozoic and Phanerozoic sedimentary basins. The Zimbabwe Craton is separated from the Kaapval Craton to the south by a zone of penetrative deformation and metamorphism – the Limpopo Mobile Belt with a polyphase history spanning Archean to Mesoproterozoic times. The Great Dyke is a long, narrow body of inward-dipping peridotites, with chromite bands, pyroxenites and norites representing activity from several intrusive centres aligned along a NNE-SSW striking graben structure. It extends for over 500 km and is more accurately considered as an elongate stratiform igneous complex rather than a dyke.