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The River Basin
 Basins of Southern Africa
 The Kunene River Basin
 Land Cover in the Basin
Climate and Weather
Water Quality
Ecology & Biodiversity



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Geology of the Basin  

The geology of the basin can be divided into four zones based on age, with a further sub-division in the Namibian Formations based on depositional environment and grade of metamorphism. The four zones are:

  • Pre-Namibian formations comprising two systems (the Vaalian and Mokolian eras);
  • Namibian Formations;
  • Carboniferous and Quaterny Formations; and
  • Tertiary and Quaterny Formations.
Generalised geologic map of the Kunene River basin.
Source: AHT GROUP AG 2010
( click to enlarge )

The Upper Kunene is largely part of the Precambrium Basement Complex (mostly granites), which is exposed on hilltops and covered by Quaternary sediments in the wide, open valleys. The Middle Kunene sub-basin is dominated by the Kalahari Sequence (of Tertiary to Recent age), which consists of basal gravels, Kalahari limestone group, and a mantle of sand hiding the underlying rocks (up to 100 to 150 meters thick). The term Kalahari Sand is not applied to a homogeneous deposit but to one which varies markedly in colour, composition, thickness and even age.

The Lower Kunene is dominated by the meta-sediments and the plutonice of the coastal branch of the Damaran orogenic belt, the Kaokoveld oregon of Cambrian age (Missão de Pedologia, 1965).

Mineral Reserves

The Kunene River basin falls within the rich Angola-Kasai craton that holds substantial quantities of mineral resources such as diamonds, iron, gold and copper with oil surrounding the craton in Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon (Dietrich 1999).  

Kimberlite pipes containing diamonds are found in clusters around Huambo in the northern part of the basin but require considerable investments before exploitation. Iron ore was once one of Angola's major export goods, with the most productive mines located in the basin (at Techamutete and Cassinga in Huíla provinces). These areas have not been mined since the late 1980s, due to security and transportation problems. Other minerals, such as gold and platinum deposits, have been prospected in the southern part of the basin, but there are no immediate plans for extraction.

Industrial minerals, such as crystalline quartz and ornamental marble are found in the Namibe and Huila provinces of Angola and are currently extracted and exported.

Distribution of mines in the Kunene River basin.
Source: AHT GROUP AG 2010
( click to enlarge )




Explore the sub-basins of the Kunene River

Video Interviews about the integrated and transboundary management of the Kunene River basin

Explore the interactions of living organisms in aquatic environments

Examine how the hydrologic cycle moves water through and around the earth