Ancient Melkbosstrand Exposed

Werner Strydom on the rocks in front of Castella Amare. Photos:

Werner Strydom on the rocks in front of Castella Amare. Photos:

“Every place is special but Melkbosstrand is unique,” says geologist Werner Strydom. He points towards the scarred and pitted rocks in front of the Castella Amare Restaurant in Melkbosstrand. It is low water and the exposed rocks in front of the popular eatery provide us with a window into a time of underwater earthquakes and volcanoes at Bloubergstrand.

Volcanoes, hereabouts? Yes. You read that right. Strydom’s research indicates that the rocks in front of Castella Amare are 830 – 950 million years old. “We’re looking at snippets of the ancient past,” he says as he steps lightly over the rocks. They were not always rocks, of course.

Snapshots of the past
“The rocks were once sand and mud,” Strydom explains, that were swept into the ocean depths around the time that volcanoes the size of Vesuvius and Krakatoa formed where the popular Ons Huisie restaurant in Bloubergstrand is situated.

The rocks then became part of the greater Pan African mountain range, which was pushed upwards as the result of severe earthquakes that occurred when South America collided with the African continent.

The different colours and markings tell a tale.

These are not just rocks; they tell a story …

Dramatic underwater events
Strydom gestures around us. “The area from Kreeftebaai to Slabber se Klippe came about as the result of a series of underwater avalanches triggered by earthquakes. We’re standing inside what may have been a trough that was kilometres deep, inside which Mount Everest could have fitted. This trough filled up with mud and sand, which then hardened into rock. As a geologist I get very excited,” he says appreciatively.

I follow the direction of his gaze – the twinkling blue sea and the many- hued rocks. It’s the history of the formation of the world – and Strydom has given me some inkling of it. Move over, Douglas Adams. This is even better.

Werner 4Sources of Information:
Rowe C.D., Backeberg N.R., van Rensburg T., Maclennan S., Faber C., Curtis C., Viglietti P., 2010, Structural geology of Robben Island: Implications for the tectonic environment of Saldanian deformation: South African Journal of Geology, v. 113, p. 57–72, doi:10.2113/gssajg.113.1-57.
Theron, J.N., Gresse, P.G., Siegfried, H.P., Rogers, J.,1992. The Geology of the Cape Town Area: Map Explanation Sheet 3318 (1:250000). Geological Survey of the South Africa (Council for Geoscience), Pretoria, SA 0001.Werner 3




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