Moonrise over Devil's Peak, Cape Town South Africa

John S. Compton


  • Front Pages 1-9   

    Front pages   1-4

    Contents   5

    Location map 6-7

    Preface 8-9

  • CHAPTER 1 Understanding the landscape  10

    Mountains rising up from the Flats    12

    The view from space     15

    Ancient continental collisions

         and the African superswell   21

    Rocks and their landforms    24

    From rock to soil      30

    Plants on the rocks     36

  • CHAPTER 2 Reading the rocks  40

    Cape Town’s oldest rocks   44

    Deep intrusion of Cape Granite magma    50

    Uplift and erosion: deep earth exposed    55

    An enormous pile of sand     57

    The Cape Fold Belt: collision and

      deformation on a large scale    68

    Pangaea breakup and the Great Escarpment  71

    Youthful cover on a very old surface    73

    Langebaan Lagoon    81

    Summary of the rocks’ story   83

  • CHAPTER 3 Living on the rocks      84

    Early Capetonians    88

    Alien invasion and the loss of soil, water

       and biodiversity    91

    Water from the rocks    95

    Altered landscapes    98

    Natural hazards    100

    The future    104

  • End Pages      85

    Acknowledgements   106

    Illustration Credits    106

    Additional Readings  108

    Index                        112

image of the front and back cover of the book "The Rocks & Mountains of Cape Town" by John S. Compton


Check out my short YouTube videos:


 Why is Table Mountain flat? (part I)

 Why is Table Mountain flat? (part II)

 Story of Table Mountain

 Cape Town City Bowl

 Will Table Mountain last forever?

Now available as an audiobook!

Click here to go to:

Tape Aids for the blind





“I read a book once which described mountains as living museums of our planet’s history. But to understand what the exhibits represent we have to learn a new language. Prof Compton…is eloquent in that language, and has done us a great service by providing this slim but rich volume to interpret our environment to us in words we can all understand.”

Cape Times

“No doubt we are in good hands as John Compton gives us a basic introduction to the environment we find around us. But Rocks & Mountains is not only a guide for today – it is also a natural history of Table Mountain…This is not a handy guide for hikers, but a small text book to read before you venture forth.”


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© John S. Compton