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Discuss drainage the African continent


Discuss drainage the African continent



The uplifting and warping of the surface of the African continent that occurred during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs produced a number of structural basins; these are now either individually occupied by, or are linked up with, drainage systems. With the exception of the Chad basin, all the major drainage basins have outlets to the sea. In addition, minor drainage basins, similar to that of Lake Chad, are situated in the East African Rift Valley. Some, again like Lake Chad, constitute the focus of centripetal drainage (drainage directed toward the centre), while others are linked to river systems. Although the East African lakes are climatically and economically important, relatively little is known of their hydrological characteristics.
Climate, geology, and the history of tectonic activity have imparted certain common characteristics to African rivers. Spatial variations in the incidence and amount of rainfall are reflected in their hydrological regimes. In areas that have one rainfall season, for example, and have pronounced drought throughout the rest of the year, the rivers flood in the rainy season and shrink in the dry season.
Whatever their hydrological regimes, all the important African rivers are interrupted by rapids, cataracts, and waterfalls. This is explained by several factors, the most important of which is the past tectonic activity, or regional land movements, that caused ridges to be formed across the courses of the major rivers. Waterfalls are often found where the rivers are still engaged in cutting downward as they flow across these ridges; Cahora Bassa (falls) on the Zambezi and the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River are examples. Another factor that contributes to the creation of rapids or falls is the incidence of rock strata that have proved resistant to the erosive effect of the rivers’ flow. (Tropical rivers do not generally carry large quantities of stone or rock; instead, they have a tendency to carry loads of fine silt, produced by chemical weathering.)
Although the Nile, the Zambezi, and the Niger rivers have large deltas, their size does not compare with, for example, the enormous delta region of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. In Africa the generally poor development of deltas is mainly because of the restricted extent of the coastal plain, together with the relatively narrow continental shelf, which provides neither sufficient room nor shallow enough water for the deposition of delta-forming material. The great speed with which most of the rivers flow into the sea is another factor inhibiting delta formation.
The major drainage basins of Africa are those of the Nile, the Niger, the Congo, the Zambezi, and the Orange Rivers and of Lake Chad.
francis1897 answered the question on January 11, 2023 at 12:43

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