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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 8 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 2027-2039, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 07 Aug 2014

Research article | 07 Aug 2014

Flood analysis of the Limpopo River basin through past evolution reconstruction and a geomorphological approach

M. Spaliviero1, M. De Dapper2, and S. Maló3 M. Spaliviero et al.
  • 1United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 2Faculty of Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  • 3Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique

Abstract. This research reconstructs the past evolution of the Limpopo River, a transboundary system located in south-eastern Africa, and describes its geomorphological settings through a literature review and field work activities, with the aim of analysing flood hazard in the basin. Major changes have occurred since the late Jurassic–early Cretaceous period due to successive tectonic events. The paper demonstrates that the apparently abandoned drainage conformation of the palaeo-Limpopo in the upper and middle stretches of the river today constitutes preferential flood-prone areas in the case of major rainfall events. An important palaeo-delta is identified in the lower Limpopo, which imposes a particular drainage pattern onto the floodplain in Mozambique and influences the flood dynamics at present. The adopted method is helpful in determining flood hazard in a data-scarce area showing complex fluvial dynamics, and allows for the identification of unsuitable locations for human settlements.

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