Geology and Habitats of Serengeti National Park  : The Serengeti habitat is located on the high central plateau of East Africa. It slopes down from the crater highlands (at an elevation of 3,636 meters) to the Speke Gulf on Lake Victoria (920 meters above sea level). The Rift Valley’s highlands are the product of volcanic activity linked to plate tectonics. Ol Doinyo Lengai, which means “mountain of God” in the native Maa language, is the only active volcano in the area. In this article we will discuss everything about the geology and habitats of Serengeti national park, Tanzania

Rivers in Serengeti national park

Between 1,600 and 1,800 meters above sea level, the Serengeti grasslands can be found. The area is drained by several river catchments. The Mara River flows north from Kenya’s Mau forests, south through the Masai Mara National Reserve, west through the northern Serengeti, out via the enormous Masarua wetlands, and finally into Lake Victoria at Musoma.

Geology and Habitats of Serengeti National Park
Geology and Habitats of Serengeti National Park

In the Serengeti environment, this is the only continually flowing river. On its banks in the Mara and along its major tributaries in Serengeti National Park, it supports extensive riverine forests. The Western Corridor of Serengeti National Park is formed by the parallel catchments of the Grumeti and Mbalageti Rivers, which are located south of the Mara. The Duma, Simiyu, and Semu rivers, which flow through Maswa Game Reserve, are substantially smaller. The terrain is undulating, with numerous minor seasonal streams draining into the major rivers.

Hills and mountains in Serengeti

In the rather flat area, there are bands of hills that rise abruptly. One band runs north from Grumechen to Kuko, then joins the Loita Hills in Kenya, forming the north-eastern boundary of Serengeti National Park in the woodlands. East of the park, the Gol Mountains rise from the Serengeti plains. Another band of hills runs west along the corridor from Seronera to form the Central Ranges, and a third group of hills runs south to form the Nyaraboro-Itonjo plateau.

Volcanic history and soils in Serengeti

The underlying rocks west of the Mugumu-Seronera line are Precambrian volcanic rocks, banded ironstones, and mineral-poor granites that are ancient (600 million to 2.5 billion years). The center and southern hills are formed by Late Precambrian sedimentary strata that overlay this shield. Granite and quartzite constitute the eastern hills and kopjes east of Seronera. The western corridor has a more recent geological history; it is made up of a network of unconsolidated sediments and alluvial formations that serve as the foundation for more nutrient-dense soils. The Crater Highlands are Pleistocene-era volcanoes made up of basic igneous rocks and basalt. Ol Doinyo Lengai, one of the volcanoes in the area, is still active, with the most recent eruption occurring in 2013.

Geology and Habitats of Serengeti National Park
Ol Doinyo Lengai

The East African Rift is a region in which two tectonic plates are drifting apart. The massive Rift Valley and the volcanoes on either side of it were created as a result of the subsequent fissures. Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and Mount Meru are only a few of the Rift Valley’s volcanoes. Despite the fact that Ngorongoro Crater appears to be an extinct volcano, geological surveys indicate that it never erupted, despite the fact that most of its immediate neighbors did. The Ngorongoro Crater is a caldera, which means that when the tectonic plates separate, the mountain is collapsing on itself.

The East African Rift’s volcanoes are relatively new. As these volcanoes erupted, ash and bigger particles blanketed the Serengeti’s eastern reaches. The volcanic ash over the plains provides a unique form of mineral-rich soil. Different salts, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, can be found in the soils of the Eastern Plains. Because of the creation of a calcareous hardpan, commonly known as caliche, the soil is shallow. Salts are washed down into the soil during the regional rains. The soluble chemicals precipitate as water is eliminated by plant uptake and the caliche layer forms and cements with lime.

Because of more rainfall and less calcium, Serengeti soils develop deeper (where the hardpan vanishes) towards the northwest plains and into the forests. A distinctive soil crust is found when precipitation levels are too high for hardpan development. This shows the soil type gradient from the ridge top to the drainage pump, with sandy, shallow, well-drained soil at the top transitioning to poorly drained, deep silty soil at the bottom. Surface run-off downslope causes the finer soil particles to be washed downslope, forming catena.

Kopjes in Serengeti

A substantial layer of exceedingly old rock lies beneath the layers of volcanic rock and ash that make up the soil of Serengeti National Park. In the late Precambrian age, a massive bubble of liquid granite pushed its way up from the molten rock beneath the Earth’s crust and into the Tanganyika Shield. The jagged top of this granite layer is exposed today when the softer rocks wear away, leaving kopjes (pronounced ‘kop-eez’). The granite is broken by the African sun’s constant heating and cooling, and the wind has weathered it into unique shapes. The majority of kopjes are circular or have circular pebbles on them.

Geology and Habitats of Serengeti National Park
Simba Kopjes

Kopjes, often known as’ islands in a sea of grass, ‘are a distinguishing feature of the Serengeti landscape. They provide bushfire protection, contain more water in the immediate area, provide a hiding place for animals, and provide predators with a vantage point. Hundreds of plant species thrive on kopjes but not in the grasslands that surround them. Many animal species only live on kopjes due to the presence of these plants and for protection reasons. Insects, lizards, and snakes are among these creatures, as are mammals like shrews and mice, as well as huge specialized mammals like lions. Kopjes are one of the greatest areas to watch lions, as well as cheetahs and leopards on rare occasions.

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