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After collecting supplies in Linyanti, Livingstone continued his journey east following the Zambezi, and in late November 1855 he reached the waterfalls known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, which he renamed in honour of Queen Victoria (1819-1901). Being nearly two kilometres wide and with a drop of 108 metres, the falls are an impressive sight; and Livingstone provides an emotive description of them:

"After twenty minutes’ sail from Kalai we came in sight of the columns of vapour, rising at a distance of five or six miles. [...] The whole scene is extremely beautiful; the banks and islands dotted over the river are adorned with sylvan vegetation of every variety of colour and form, and at the period of our visit several trees were spangled over with blossoms." 

Travels and Research in South Africa, John Murray, London, 1912, p.355. (First edition in 1857)

From this area Livingstone collected a specimen of basalt, the rock type that underlies the Victoria Falls; and he also collected some other metamorphic and igneous rocks, such as hornblende schist and porphyry.

  • Specimen of augite porphyry with 19th century museum label: ‘Augitic Porphyry. River Lekone, near Great Falls, Zambesi. Presented by Dr Livingstone.’

    Specimen of augite porphyry with 19th century museum label: ‘Augitic Porphyry. River Lekone, near Great Falls, Zambesi. Presented by Dr Livingstone.’

  • Livingstone’s note written in the field for the augite porphyry: ‘R. Lekone- near Great Falls- Zambesi.’

    Livingstone’s note written in the field for the augite porphyry: ‘R. Lekone- near Great Falls- Zambesi.’

  • Specimens of basalt rock with 19th century museum label: ‘Basaltic rock. The rock in which the fissure of the falls occurs. Makolo’s country. Presented by Dr Livingstone.’

    Specimens of basalt rock with 19th century museum label: ‘Basaltic rock. The rock in which the fissure of the falls occurs. Makolo’s country. Presented by Dr Livingstone.’

  • Livingstone’s note written in the field for the basalt rock: ‘The rock in which the fissure of the falls occurs. Makolo country.’

    Livingstone’s note written in the field for the basalt rock: ‘The rock in which the fissure of the falls occurs. Makolo country.’

  • Specimen of hornblendic schist with 19th century museum label: ‘Hornblendic schist. 20 miles above the Victoria Falls. Presented by Dr Livingstone.’

    Specimen of hornblendic schist with 19th century museum label: ‘Hornblendic schist. 20 miles above the Victoria Falls. Presented by Dr Livingstone.’

  • Livingstone’s note written in the field for the hornblendic schist: ‘Upper part of rock 20 miles above the falls westward.’

    Livingstone’s note written in the field for the hornblendic schist: ‘Upper part of rock 20 miles above the falls westward.’

  • Specimens of iron ore with 19th century museum label: ‘Brown iron ore or hydrous peroxide of iron. Near the Great Falls, Zambesi (?) Presented by Dr Livingstone.’

    Specimens of iron ore with 19th century museum label: ‘Brown iron ore or hydrous peroxide of iron. Near the Great Falls, Zambesi (?) Presented by Dr Livingstone.’

  • Livingstone’s note written in the field for the iron ore: ‘Found very frequently covering a large extent of country west of Angola. This specimen comes from near the falls.’

    Livingstone’s note written in the field for the iron ore: ‘Found very frequently covering a large extent of country west of Angola. This specimen comes from near the falls.’

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