Namibia is like an open book for anyone interested in geology, rocks are exposed and the effects of erosion is plain to see. Sesriem Canyon is virtually hidden until one walks to its rim. A slot canyon well worth walking through to read a visual history of the area's climatic past.
This shot was taken on our recent trip around the country.
Sesriem Canyon owes its name to the first settlers who had to connect six lenths of leather rope (Afrikaans: ses rieme) to scoop water out of the canyon. Its geological past began in the middle Tertiary about 30 million years ago. At these times a true desert climate prevailed as in the present Namib Desert. Large parts of the country were covered by up to 200 m thick desert sands, which later solidified into the Tsondab Sandstone Formation. As so often in the history of the earth a climatic change occurred and wetter (semi-arid) conditions commenced. Numerous rivers were formed which rose in the area of the Great Escarpment further to the east and unlike today often even reached the Atlantic. The Tsauchab River was one of these. This river transported large amounts of erosion debris and dissolved carbonites form the nearby Naukluft and Zaris Mountains and deposited these gravels on the desert sands of the Tsondab Sandstone Formation. This debris is about 50 m thick and fans the foot of the Great Escarpment. The carbonate transported in the river water was precipitated and this lead to a cementation of the deposited sand and boulders forming conglomerates.
The actual formation of the Sesriem Canyon was initiated by a drop in sea level about 2 million years ago. This drop was connected to the commencement of ice ages in the Northern Hemisphere. Large amounts of seawater were absorbed as ice in the newly formed glaciers, which caused a worldwide drop of the sea-level. This led to an increase of the gradient to the ocean and thus to an increase of the erosional forces of the rivers, which resulted in the Tsauchab cutting into its own, previously deposited conglomeratic sediments. The erosion processes, which formed the small canyon (about 30 m deep and 3 km long) still show this effect, when the water flows at high speed through the gorge in good rainy seasons. The recent return to full arid conditions makes further shaping of the canyon take place progressively slower.
During a walk through the Sesriem Canyon you can read its geological history from the steep canyon walls. A distinct change from the fine sandy layers to mighty boulder beds is obvious. This sequence in the sediments reflects the different water load capacity of the Tsauchab River during the single sedimentation phases. Coarse boulders point to strong flowing water with large transportation power and thus high rainfall. Fine grained sand deposits are an indication of weaker flowing water due to lower rainfall. By means of such outcrops, the geologist can reconstruct the climatic history of the whole region.
After good rainy seasons, water remains in the gorge for many months. Numerous tree branches have trapped alluvial material, showing very impressively how strong the floods in the canyon can swell. However the Tsauchab, which hundreds of thousands of years ago poured into the Atlantic near Meob Bay, only flows sporadically for a further 65 km into the desert, before it finally oozes away in the Sossusvlei
Critiques | Translate
Budapestman (82620) 2012-05-04 1:15
a picturesque view, the composition is spectacular, beautiful romantic details and lights,
Tfs! Have a nice weekend! Kellemes hétvégét kívánok!
dta (63008) 2012-05-04 1:17
Hello Rosemary ,
A spectaculat view of this beautiful canyon . The game of shades and lights is really interesting here . And teh sky wonderful .
A great landscape .
Royaldevon (26629) 2012-05-04 1:20
Good Morning Rosemary,
Oh my, what amazing, rugged scenery!
This is the stuff of National Geographic!
A very well composed shot detailing the textures of the eroded rocks, under a fine cloud canopy.
The sunlit mountain, to the right, helps give that sense of depth.
Have a lovely day,
JFS (32459) 2012-05-04 1:24
Breathtaking image Rosemary!!! The earth in original version! I only can say BRAVO!!!
ciakgiak (30405) 2012-05-04 1:26
grazie per la condivisione di questo splendido paesaggio, così estremo e selvaggio.
Davvero splendido il cielo che completa una scena memorabile. Complimenti.
Un caro saluto
Suppiluliuma (3885) 2012-05-04 1:47
Nice contrast, the clouds offer both a nice depth and good texture details. The hills on the left shed by the sun are interesting and provide a duality.
Did you notice the lateral portrait-like formation of rocks on the left?
timecapturer (45265) 2012-05-04 3:11
a striking shot this, the contrast of light and shade being so effective and dramatic. It brings out the depth and scale perfectly. Executed and presented magnificently.
Have an enjoyable weekend - warm wishes - Brian.
patdeph (35748) 2012-05-04 3:58
the place is spectacular, and the low sky splendid, that creates an impressive depth.The light in the clouds is wonderful.Magnificent!
sacimar (25975) 2012-05-04 6:36
I like this image of the canyon, the point of view you chose in interesting showing a big part of the beautiful sky, the light and shadow game is also a good element here, I like this place,
Have a good weekend,
ines8 (6068) 2012-05-04 8:06
What a wonderful feeling of freedom give to me this beautiful picture of nature!The clouds are really splendid.Thanks for the very interesting note!
All the best,
Jeppo (17639) 2012-05-04 9:31
namibia is not just a open book on geology, namibia is colours, wilderness and inspiration
hopefully I will go there one day...
marina7 (8049) 2012-05-04 10:32
that looks like a very desolate place. The dark brown foreground and the low hanging clouds add to the impression. But the light is wonderful and those orange mountains on the left really enliven the scenery. Very well taken, my compliments.
jjcordier (73326) 2012-05-04 13:08
Le ciel est aussi beau et impressionnant que le paysage qu'il surplombe. Une très belle photo de ce fantastique endroit.
Gigidusud (13395) 2012-05-04 13:15
Fantastic shot on the canyon with nice light and a splendid cloudy sky.Great POV.I like it!
Thanks for sharing.
ybx (251) 2012-05-05 7:16
an impressive and amazing image of this african canyon.
One of the best elements in this picture is the light, that draws some spectacular plays of shadows on the wall of canyon, revealing the tortuous shapes and the magnificent colors.
Equally spectacular, the top of the photo, with the lovely colours and shapes of sky and clouds, not to mention the glowing mountain as third element that completes this amazing scenario.
Also very interesting your scientific and historical notes.
Very well done!
Warm regards & ciao
corjan3 (2027) 2012-05-05 7:26
I do not believe this. You pasted the clouds in and you painted it over :) What a FABULOUS image. And a very interesting note...I will read it again with much attention. The Naukluft, a short distance to the east with its nappe structures, is a fascinating area in itself. And conglomerates with limestone clasts as seen here are rather unusual. Last time there I was rather upset because there was so little water at the bottom...thought the new motel nearby was the culprit - new in those days. Having read your note it seems it may thankfully not be the case. Thank you once again for a most beautiful image. Best wishes.
PS: What did you say, when is the book due?
Cricri (101443) 2012-05-05 9:58
Splendide beauté de ce paysage a la fois mystérieux et magnifique, excellent POV, belle lumière qui filtre les nuages, de ce ciel superbe qui s'ajoute a la beauté du paysage
dkmurphys (46326) 2012-05-05 13:36
Splendid natural scene. Great shot, have a nice weekend.
tyro (18624) 2012-05-05 14:41
What a wonderfully comprehensive and fascinating note. Are you a geologist? Your knowledge about the geography and geology of Namibia is exceptional.
And what a photograph! The rock formations and the clearly visible strata to which you refer in your note are well portrayed in this photograph but the real "star of the show" from the photographic point of view is undoubtedly the fantastic sky, so full of character and interesting detail, light and shade.
Perfect composition, beautiful colours and exception sharpness as always.
emka (73365) 2012-05-06 0:03
Hi I somehow missed many of your photos. I must look at them closer. This shot looks quite dramatic with the impressive clouds and canyon. I wonder if I will be there. Seems very interesting place.
lestans (17030) 2012-05-06 9:31
What a beautiful country is Namibia! Not only desert... also this canyon is gorgeous.
Nice picture, I like very much also the sky
danyy (0) 2012-05-09 3:32
un paysage très enchanteur dans un moment de la journée particulièrement bien choisi. D'excellents contrastes dans un ciel amical et complice.
Une belle opposition entre les teintes brunes et bleues.
Bravo pour ces lumières parfaites.
mkamionka (29259) 2012-05-09 6:42
amazing landscapes. I have heard about the Fish River Canyon but this one is completely new to me. Great capture with some spectacular sky and amazing colors. It is incredible how vast is this space and everything still so wild.
Very impressive, TFS
konrado (371) 2012-05-29 14:35
from your latest photos I especially like this one - a great landscape. The lightening and colors are perfect.
- Copyright: Rosemary Walden (SnapRJW) (29302)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2012-04-12
- Categories: Nature
- Exposure: f/18.0, 1/60 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Map: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): Namibian Landscapes 2 [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2012-05-04 1:11