The Segmented Zambezi Sedimentary System from Source to Sink: 2. Geochemistry, Clay Minerals, and Detrital Geochronology

Type Article
Date 2022-05
Language English
Author(s) Garzanti Eduardo1, Bayon Germain2, Dinis Pedro3, Vermeesch Pieter4, Pastore Guido1, Resentini Alberto1, Barbarano Marta1, Ncube Lindani5, Van Niekerk Helena Johanna5
Affiliation(s) 1 : Laboratory for Provenance Studies, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, 20126 Milano, Italy
2 : Unité de Recherche Geosciences Marines, Ifremer, CS 10070, 29280 Plouzané, France
3 : MARE-Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Coimbra, Portugal
4 : London Geochronology Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK
5 : Department of Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Source Journal Of Geology (0022-1376) (University of Chicago Press), 2022-05 , Vol. 130 , N. 3 , P. 171-208
DOI 10.1086/719166
WOS© Times Cited 6

Elemental geochemistry, Nd isotopes, clay minerals, and U-Pb zircon ages integrated by petrographic and heavy-mineral data offer a multi-proxy panorama of mud and sand composition across the Zambezi sediment-routing system. Detrital-zircon geochronology highlights the four major episodes of crustal growth in southern Africa: Irumide ages predominate over Pan-African, Eburnean, and Neoarchean ages. Smectite, dominant in mud generated from Karoo basalts or in the equatorial/winter-dry climate of Mozambican lowlands, prevails over illite and kaolinite. Elemental geochemistry reflects quartz addition by recycling (Uppermost Zambezi), supply from Karoo basalts (Upper Zambezi), and first-cycle provenance from Precambrian basements (Lower Zambezi). Mildly negative for sediments derived from mafic granulites, gabbros, and basalts, åNd values are most negative for sand derived from cratonic gneisses. Intrasample variability among cohesive mud, very coarse silt, and sand is principally caused by the concentration of Nd-rich monazite in the fine tail of the size distribution. The settling-equivalence effect also explains deviations from the theoretical relationship between åNd and TNd,DM model ages, suggesting that monazite carries a more negative åNd signal than less dense and less durable heavy minerals. Elemental geochemistry and Nd isotopes reveal that the Mazowe-Luenha river system contributes most of the sediment reaching the Zambezi Delta today, with minor supply by the Shire River. Sediment yields and erosion rates are lower by an order of magnitude on the low-relief Kalahari Plateau than in rugged Precambrian terranes. On the Plateau, mineralogical and geochemical indices testify to extensive breakdown of feldspars and garnet unjustified by the presently dry climate. Detrital kaolinite is recycled by incision of Cretaceous- Cenozoic paleosols even in the wetter lower catchment, where inefficient hydrolysis is testified by abundant fresh feldspars and undepleted Ca and Na. Mud geochemistry and surficial corrosion of ferromagnesian minerals indicate that, at present, weathering increases only slightly downstream the Zambezi River.

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Garzanti Eduardo, Bayon Germain, Dinis Pedro, Vermeesch Pieter, Pastore Guido, Resentini Alberto, Barbarano Marta, Ncube Lindani, Van Niekerk Helena Johanna (2022). The Segmented Zambezi Sedimentary System from Source to Sink: 2. Geochemistry, Clay Minerals, and Detrital Geochronology. Journal Of Geology, 130(3), 171-208. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :