Reconstructing the history of urban development in the mining town of Virginia, Free State between 1940 and 2015

Ajayi, Paul Oluwanifemi
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The nature of urban development experienced by mining towns across the world has been a subject of concern among urban planners because of its transitory nature. Most times mining towns develop gloriously into booming urban centres that create employment, generate wealth and satisfaction. All these fades into oblivion as soon as the mines get depleted. Mining towns often go through a number of urban processes which have been considered an expression of ‘infrastructural violence’ especially in the earlier stage of urban growth, and continually persists throughout the town’s life span. This research sought to reconstruct the history of urban development in the mining town of Virginia, Free State, and to quantify the manifestations of infrastructural violence throughout its timeline using GIS and remote sensing. Hence, land use and land cover maps were produced from aerial photographs, topographical maps and Landsat images through manual on-screen digitizing and classification using supervised support vector machine algorithms. Land use change detection analysis was conducted on the produced images using the cross classification and tabulation tool of QGIS 2.18.4 and the post classification tool of ENVI 5.3. Landscape metrics were employed to calculate the dimensions of growth and change experienced by all the land use classes during the timeline under study. Results obtained from this study confirmed the thoughts and findings of several theories vis a vis the nature of mining towns. Results reveal a rapid growth in the urban formal land use class up until 1995 with urban expansion and sprawl happening in the years between 1986 and 1995 with metrics of CA, NP and ED multiplying to twice their initial values ten years earlier. The urban informal land use class also experienced its subtle growth throughout the timeline of the study with its own urban expansion also happening between 1986 and 1995 with double increase in CA, NP and ED metric values. However, unlike the formal class that experienced decline after this period of urban expansion, the informal class continued to experience growth up until the end of the study period. Infrastructural violence was measured using the fractal dimension index (AWMPFD) of the landscape metrics for the formal and informal LU class. The results reveal continuous fragmentation throughout the period of study but with higher values in the years in which urban development started.
A research report submitted In partial fulfilment for the degree Master of Science (Geographical Information Systems & Remote Sensing). to the School of Geography, Archaeology & Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg , July 2017
Ajayi, Paul Oluwanifemi (2017) Reconstructing the history of urban development in the mining town of Virginia, Free State between 1940 and 2015, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg,