STS054-151-019 Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa January 1993
The Drakensberg Mountains near the southeast coast of South Africa form an impressive barrier between the broad, basin-like interior plateau of South Africa and the coastal plains. Part of the great escarpment that extends from southern Zimbabwe in a generally northeast-southwest-trending arc to Cape Town, the Drakensberg Range has been described as dramatically beautiful. This photograph, with an almost 3-dimensional quality, captures a small section of that beauty as the plateau elevation drops to the east in near-vertical escarpments, with the vertical drops looking like a series of downward steps before giving way to rolling grasslands that gradually slope to the Indian Ocean. The complex structure of this range has a thick, underlying series of sandstones formed 180 to 260 million years ago. Approximately 150 million years ago, lava began intruding through fissures in the sandstone rocks, spreading out in enormous horizontal layers. This photograph shows the result of weathering and erosion on the basalt plateau--the mountain terrain carved into jagged peaks separated by deep valleys and ravines. While most of the plateau drains westward, several smaller rivers flow eastward and plunge rapidly down to the Indian Ocean.
NASA Human
Space Flight
Home Page
Home Page
Image eXchange
JSC Digital
Image Collection
Earth Science &
Remote Sensing
This service is provided by the International Space Station program and the JSC Earth Science & Remote Sensing Unit, ARES Division, Exploration Integration Science Directorate.
NASA meatball logo
ESRS logo