Dwyka Group

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Dwyka Group
Stratigraphic range: Late Carboniferous-Early Permian
~317–288 Ma
TypeGeologic group
Sub-unitsMbizane Formation, Elandsvlei Formation, Tshidzi Formation
UnderliesEcca Group
OverliesCape Supergroup, Natal Supergroup, Namaqua-Natal Province, Archean basement rocks
PrimaryDiamictite, tillite, claystone, mudstone
OtherQuartzite, sandstone shale
RegionWestern, Northern Cape, Free State, North-West, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal
Country South Africa  Namibia  Botswana  Zimbabwe
Geology of Karoo Supergroup.png
A simplified geological map of the outcrops of Karoo Supergroup rocks in Southern Africa. The Dwyka Group deposits are represented by the red key on the map

The Dwyka Group is one of four geological groups that compose the Karoo Supergroup. It is the lowermost geological group and heralds the commencement of sedimentation of the Karoo Supergroup. Based on stratigraphic position, lithostratigraphic correlation and palynological analyses, these lowermost Karoo strata range between the Late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) to Early Permian in age.[1][2][3][4]


At the commencement of the deposition of the Dwyka Group, it is thought that the development of the Karoo foreland system had begun approximately 30 million years prior. This foreland system was caused by crustal uplift that had previously begun to take course due to the subduction of the Palaeo-pacific plate beneath the Gondwanan plate. This resulted in the rise of the Gondwanide mountain range in what is known as the Gondwanide orogeny. The continuation of the orogenic pulses from the growing Gondwanides mountain chain and associated subduction created accommodation space for sedimentation in the Karoo Basin which ran along an east to west trending foreland trough. The formation of the Karoo Basin resulted in the preservation of the Dwyka Group rocks and all succeeding rocks that make up the greater Karoo Supergroup. Southern Africa at this time was part of the supercontinent, Gondwana, and was positioned over the antarctic circle at this time. The result was the development of the Permo-Carboniferous glacial environment where massive ice sheets entombed the early Karoo Basin in the surrounding highlands and permanent, floating glaciers in the lowlands.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Caption: 1-South-America 2-Africa; 3-India; 4-Australia; 5-Antarctica; 6-Fossil remains of Cynognathus, a Triassic land reptile, approximately 3m long; 7- Fossil remains of the freshwater reptile Mesosaurus; 8-Fossil of the fern Glossopteris found in all of the southern continents show that they were once joined; 9-Fossil evidence of the Triassic land reptile Lystrosaurus

Geographic extent[edit]

The geological formations of the Dwyka Group are restricted to the edges of the Karoo Basin and achieve their greatest thickness in its southern deposits at approximately 800m, progressively thinning out towards the north. In the south outcrops and exposures are known from Prince Albert, Matjiesfontein, Laingsburg, Sutherland, and as far south as Worcester. Western to northern exposures are known from Calvinia, Carnarvon, Kimberley, and then from Vryheid and Durban in the east.

Dwyka Group deposits are also found outside of and north of the Karoo Basin. These deposits found north of the Karoo Basin are found as the lowermost geological formation of the Springbok Flats, Tshipise, northern Lebombo, Tuli, and Ellisras (Lephalale) Basins of north-northeastern South Africa.

In its southern, western, and eastern deposits, the Dwyka Group conformably overlies rocks of the Cape Supergroup, which includes the Cape Fold Belt, and the Natal Supergroup. It also unconformably overlies the Namaqua-Natal Metamorphic Province in some localities in the west-northwest of South Africa. Its north and northeastern Karoo Basin deposits and all deposits found north of the Karoo Basin unconformably overlie the Transvaal Supergroup, Ventersdorp Group, or Archean and Proterozoic basement rocks. In all South African localities, the Dwyka Group underlies rocks of the Ecca Group.

Caption: Ripples in Dwyka Group till deposits

The geographical range of the Dwyka Group is large with its deposits also being found in other localities in southern Africa. Dwyka-aged deposits that are considered to correlate in age to those found in South Africa have been located in the southern Karasburg and Kalahari Basins of southern Namibia – in and around the Fish River Canyon – in the Huab Basin of northern-western Namibia, the Waterberg and Owambo Basins of northern Namibia, the Dukwi Formation of the Kalahari Basin of Botswana, and the Save Basin of southeastern Zimbabwe.[11]

Stratigraphic units[edit]

The Dwyka Group deposits have been categorized by those found as part of the Karoo Basin and smaller formations found in different basins north of the Karoo Basin. In the Karoo Basin, the Dwyka Group is known by two distinctive lithological facies. These two facies are represented in its northern and southern deposits respectively and are recognized as the two geological formations below:

North of the Karoo Basin outcrops of another geological formation that correlates in age to the main Karoo Basin's Dwyka-aged deposits. This formation is the lowermost unit of the Springbok Flats, Tshipise, northern Lebombo, Tuli, and Ellisras (Lephalale) Basins. This geological formation is recognized and differentiated below due to its unique lithological facies from its main Karoo Basin counterparts:[20][21][22]

  • Tshidzi Formation : Deposits of this formation represent backbulge basin deposits of the Karoo foreland system. In the Tshipise and Tuli Basins, this formation is known as the Madzaringwe Formation. This formation consists of pebbly mudstones that are interbedded with mainly coarse-grained diamictites. These deposits are considered to be lacustrine facies, which show that the rock sediments were deposited in glacial or periglacial lakes. The northernmost Dwyka Group deposits are considered to have been most proximal to the shoreline of the shallow interior sea that was present at this time in southern Africa.[23]


The Dwyka Group is mainly known for petrified wood which increase in species diversity in the younger sequences.[24][25] The cold, glacial environment that the sedimentary rocks of the Dwyka Group were deposited in was not conducive for high plant diversity. Fossil wood species identified include lycopods, especially from the Karasburg, Kalahari, and Huab Basins in Namibia. Glossoperis leaf impressions, the petrified remains of Dadoxylon, coprolites, fossil pollen, and trace fossils of bony fishes, crustaceans, and other arthropods have been found from the Dwyka Group and correlated geological formations from other basins.[26][27][28][29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Visser, J.N.J., 1986. Lateral lithofacies relationships in the glacigene Dwyka Formation in the western and central parts of the Karoo Basin. Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa, 89, pp.373–383.
  2. ^ Isbell, John L., Douglas I. Cole, and Octavian Catuneanu. "Carboniferous-Permian glaciation in the main Karoo Basin, South Africa: Stratigraphy, depositional controls, and glacial dynamics." In Resolving the Late Paleozoic ice age in time and space, vol. 441, pp. 71–82. Geological Society of America Special Paper, 2008. Link: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/John_Isbell/publication/235926635_Carboniferous-Permian_glaciation_in_the_main_Karoo_Basin_South_Africa_Stratigraphy_depositional_controls_and_glacial_dynamics/links/00463514485423265a000000/Carboniferous-Permian-glaciation-in-the-main-Karoo-Basin-South-Africa-Stratigraphy-depositional-controls-and-glacial-dynamics.pdf
  3. ^ Smith, R.M.H., Eriksson, P.G., Botha, W.J. (1993-01-01). "A review of the stratigraphy and sedimentary environments of the Karoo-aged basins of Southern Africa". Journal of African Earth Sciences (and the Middle East). 16 (1–2): 143–169. doi:10.1016/0899-5362(93)90164-L. ISSN 0899-5362.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Bamford, M. K. (2004-01-01). "Diversity of the Woody Vegetation of Gondwanan Southern Africa". Gondwana Research. 7 (1): 153–164. doi:10.1016/S1342-937X(05)70314-2. ISSN 1342-937X.
  5. ^ Thomas, R.J.; von Veh, M.W.; McCourt, S. (1993-01-01). "The tectonic evolution of southern Africa: an overview". Journal of African Earth Sciences (and the Middle East). 16 (1–2): 5–24. doi:10.1016/0899-5362(93)90159-N. ISSN 0899-5362.
  6. ^ Catuneanu, O.; Hancox, P.J.; Rubidge, B.S. (1998-12-01). "Reciprocal flexural behaviour and contrasting stratigraphies: a new basin development model for the Karoo retroarc foreland system, South Africa". Basin Research. 10 (4). ISSN 1365-2117.
  7. ^ O. Catuneanu, P.J. Hancox and B.S. Rubidge (2002-11-01). "Foredeep submarine fans and forebulge deltas: orogenic off-loading in the underfilled Karoo Basin". Journal of African Earth Sciences. 35 (4): 489–502. doi:10.1016/S0899-5362(02)00154-9. ISSN 1464-343X.
  8. ^ Catuneanu, Octavian (2004). "Basement control on flexural profiles and the distribution of foreland facies: The Dwyka Group of the Karoo Basin, South Africa". Geology. 32 (6): 517. doi:10.1130/G20526.1. ISSN 0091-7613.
  9. ^ Visser, J.N.J. (1989-05-01). "The Permo-Carboniferous Dwyka Formation of Southern Africa: Deposition by a predominantly subpolar marine ice sheet". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 70 (4): 377–391. doi:10.1016/0031-0182(89)90115-6. ISSN 0031-0182.
  10. ^ Thomas, R.J., Marshall, C.G.A., Du Plessis, A., Fitch, F.J., Miller, J.A., Von Brunn, V. and Watkeys, M.K., 1992. Geological studies in southern Natal and Transkei: implications for the Cape Orogen. Inversion Tectonics of the Cape Fold Belt, Karoo and Cretaceous Basins of Southern Africa. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp.229–236. Link: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bob_Thomas4/publication/290693065_Geological_studies_in_southern_Natal_and_Transkei_implications_for_the_Cape_Orogen/links/5772141e08ae6219474a6519.pdf
  11. ^ Bangert, Berthold; Stollhofen, Harald; Lorenz, Volker; Armstrong, Richard (1999-07-01). "The geochronology and significance of ash-fall tuffs in the glaciogenic Carboniferous-Permian Dwyka Group of Namibia and South Africa". Journal of African Earth Sciences. 29 (1): 33–49. doi:10.1016/S0899-5362(99)00078-0. ISSN 1464-343X.
  12. ^ Theron, J.N. and Blignault, H.J., 1975. A model for the sedimentation of the Dwyka glacials in the southwestern Cape. Gondwana Geology, pp.347–356.
  13. ^ Visser, Johan N.J.; Young, Grant M. (1990-12-01). "Major element geochemistry and paleoclimatology of the Permo-Carboniferous glacigene Dwyka Formation and postglacial mudrocks in southern Africa". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 81 (1–2): 49–57. doi:10.1016/0031-0182(90)90039-A. ISSN 0031-0182.
  14. ^ Von Brunn, V. and Visser, J.N.J., 1999. Lithostratigraphy of the Mbizane Formation (Dwyka group). South African Committee for Stratigraphy. Lithostratigraphic Series, (32), p.10.
  15. ^ Huber, Heinz; Koeberl, Christian; McDonald, Iain; Reimold, Wolf Uwe (2001-06-15). "Geochemistry and petrology of Witwatersrand and Dwyka diamictites from South Africa: search for an extraterrestrial component". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 65 (12): 2007–2016. doi:10.1016/S0016-7037(01)00569-5. ISSN 0016-7037.
  16. ^ Brunn, V. Von (1977-08-01). "A furrowed intratillite pavement in the Dwyka Group of northern Natal". South African Journal of Geology. 80 (2). ISSN 1012-0750.
  17. ^ Gravenor, V., von Brunn, C.P. (1983-09-01). "A model for late Dwyka glaciomarine sedimentation in the Eastern Karoo basin". South African Journal of Geology. 86 (3). ISSN 1012-0750.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Brunn, V. von; Marshall, C. G. A. (1989-12-01). "Glaciated surfaces and the base of the Dwyka Formation near Pietermaritzburg, Natal". South African Journal of Geology. 92 (4). ISSN 1012-0750.
  19. ^ Berthold, Bangert. "Tephrostratigraphy, petrography, geochemistry, age and fossil record of the Ganigobis Shale Member and associated glaciomarine deposits of the Dwyka Group, Late Carboniferous, southern Africa". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ Gravenor, C.P.; von Brunn, V.; Dreimanis, A. (1984-03-01). "Nature and classification of waterlain glaciogenic sediments, exemplified by Pleistocene, Late Paleozoic and Late Precambrian deposits". Earth-Science Reviews. 20 (2): 105–166. doi:10.1016/0012-8252(84)90023-0. ISSN 0012-8252.
  21. ^ von Brunn, V. (1996-10-01). "The Dwyka Group in the northern part of Kwazulu/Natal, South Africa: sedimentation during late Palaeozoic deglaciation". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 125 (1–4): 141–163. doi:10.1016/S0031-0182(96)00028-4. ISSN 0031-0182.
  22. ^ Von Brunn, V. (1994), "Glaciogenic deposits of the Permo-Carboniferous Dwyka Group in the eastern region of the Karoo Basin, South Africa", Earth's Glacial Record, Cambridge University Press, pp. 60–69, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511628900.005, ISBN 9780511628900, retrieved 2018-11-23
  23. ^ Bordy, E.M. (2018-03-01). "Lithostratigraphy of the Tshidzi Formation (Dwyka Group, Karoo Supergroup), South Africa". South African Journal of Geology. 121 (1): 109–118. doi:10.25131/sajg.121.0008. ISSN 1996-8590.
  24. ^ Bamford, M. K. (2000-07-01). "Fossil woods of Karoo age deposits in South Africa and Namibia as an aid to biostratigraphical correlation". Journal of African Earth Sciences. 31 (1): 119–132. doi:10.1016/S0899-5362(00)00077-4. ISSN 1464-343X.
  25. ^ Bamford, Marion K. (2004-01-01). "Diversity of the Woody Vegetation of Gondwanan Southern Africa". Gondwana Research. 7 (1): 153–164. doi:10.1016/S1342-937X(05)70314-2. ISSN 1342-937X.
  26. ^ R., McLachlan, I.; Ann, Anderson (1973). "A REVIEW OF THE EVIDENCE FOR MARINE CONDITIONS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA DURING DWYKA TIMES". ISSN 0078-8554. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. ^ Barbolini, N., Bamford, M.K. (2014-12-01). "Palynology of an Early Permian coal seam from the Karoo Supergroup of Botswana". Journal of African Earth Sciences. 100: 136–144. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2014.06.008. ISSN 1464-343X.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ Bangert, B; Bamford, Marion (2001-01-01). "Carboniferous pycnoxylic woods from the Dwyka group of Southern Namibia". Palaeontologia Africana: 13–23.
  29. ^ Scheffler, K.; Hoernes, S.; Schwark, L. (2003). "Global changes during Carboniferous–Permian glaciation of Gondwana: Linking polar and equatorial climate evolution by geochemical proxies". Geology. 31 (7): 605. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2003)031<0605:GCDCGO>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 0091-7613.
  30. ^ Smith, R.M.H., Eriksson, P.G., Botha, W.J. (1993-01-01). "A review of the stratigraphy and sedimentary environments of the Karoo-aged basins of Southern Africa". Journal of African Earth Sciences (and the Middle East). 16 (1–2): 143–169. doi:10.1016/0899-5362(93)90164-L. ISSN 0899-5362.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)