An overview of the Permian (Karoo) coal deposits of southern Africa

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110 Citations (Scopus)


The coal deposits of southern Africa (Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are reviewed. The coal seams formed during two periods, the Early Permian (Artinskian-Kungurian) and the Late Permian (Ufimian-Kazanian). The coals are associated with non-marine terrestrial clastic sedimentary sequences, most commonly mudrock and sandstones, assigned to the Karoo Supergroup. The Early Permian coals are most commonly sandstone-hosted while the younger coals typically occur interbedded with mudstones. The sediments were deposited in varying tectono-sedimentary basins such as foreland, intracratonic rifts and intercratonic grabens and half-grabens. The depositional environments that produced the coal-bearing successions were primarily deltaic and fluvial, with some minor shoreline and lacustrine settings. Coals vary in rank from high-volatile bituminous to anthracite and characteristically have a relatively high inertinite component, and medium- to high-ash content. In countries where coal is mined, it is used for power generation, coking coal, synfuel generation, gasification and for (local) domestic household consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-562
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Coal
  • Karoo
  • Permian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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