The Geologic History of Victoria Falls

This article was written by Phin Upham,

The gorge below the roaring water of Victoria Falls tells the story of the river’s geologic history. A basalt plateau over the river shows multiple cracks in the sandstone, the result of erosion over time. Taking an aerial view of the falls, one might notice the zig-zag pattern the river has carved through the mountains over the past 100,000 years. The water leaves behind gashes in the sandstone known as “batoka gorges.”

The Songwe Gorge is perhaps the most direct evidence of this evolution over time. The straight chasm one can see here is proof that the falls of Victoria will be much wider than they are presently.

Victoria Falls represent the largest curtain of water the world over. As water travels into the second gorge on its path, it forms what geologists call the Boiling Pot. Accessed from the Zambian side, the Boiling Pot holds some of the animals and objects that are swept over the edge of the falls.

Though the walls of the gorge tower over 100 meters above the river, the levels of the river vary by season. Drier conditions cause levels to fall, creating an effect that locals call “The Devil’s Swimming Pool.” This unique event allows travelers to swim in the water at the top of the falls, a death trap for most of the year.

Victoria Falls was inducted into UNESCO’s heritage sites in 1989, forever providing boundaries and protection to that stretch of the Zambezi River.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his LinkedIn page.