The Cederberg is famous for its spectacular rock formations that were sculpted by wind and water over many millions of years. Almost the entire area consists of sedimentary rock, sandstone and shale. According to Barnard & Greeff (1993) the Cederberg was a prominent feature since before the breaking up of Gondwanaland 130 million years (Ma) ago.
The geology of the Cederberg comprises of the Cape Supergroup (Table Mountain Group, Bokkeveld Group and Witteberg Group) and the Karoo Supergroup (Dwyka Group, Ecca Group and Beaufort Group). The Cape Supergroup was formed about 700 – 600 Ma ago by a succession of sedimentation of sandstone (silt, mud and sand). The distinct reddish colour of rock is a result of minerals like iron and manganese that formed part of the sediments.
About 330 Ma ago climatic change set in and the rapid growth of the continental ice sheets resulted in a drop in sea level which exposed the upper Witteberg Group sediments that began eroding. This process was enhanced by scouring actions of large continental glaciers moving over these exposed layers. These moving glaciers played a big role in the forming of the high mountains and deep valley landscape of the Cederberg Mountains as we know it today.
The first layer of the Karoo Supergroup was deposited over the Cape Supergroup, about 310 Ma ago when the icy conditions subsided.
Due to intercontinental movement and forces about 300 Ma ago the stratigraphy of the Cederberg shows eastward-dipping of strata of the Cape Supergroup overlain by the Karoo Supergroup (Reid et al, 2000). This can be seen in the ridges (‘riffels’) east of the road between Mount Ceder and Wupperthal.