Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Friday, August 1st, Halali Resort, Etosha National Park, Namibia.


The drive from the Ugab Terrace Lodge to the Halali Camp Resort on the western edge of Etosha National Park was called by one of our travelers “the most boring of our drives”.  He likened it to one of the endless expanses of the province of New South Wales in Australia. 
Except for the Himba village we visited,
and the thousands of springbok, zebras, and elephants, it was uneventful. 

Unless you were searching for rocks.  I think that Kiboko ought to take advantage of the remarkable geology in this region, and develop and include a component of it into their tour.  To help out, I delivered a short lecture to the group overlooking the terrace before last night’s dinner.  Kembo asked me to write up something he could use in the future, so I’m including the text here.  Too bad I can’t include the diagram I made for the presentation, with the assistance of Susie and Eugene’s flip chart.  Thanks to all.

The Colliseum of Continental Crash and the SuperBowl of Subduction.
The world’s continents began about a billion years ago when three giant upper mantle pockets of magma pushed enough lava through the earth’s crust to create land plates over a several thousand miles across.  They were the South American plate, Congo plate, and the Kalahari plate.  They were located near the South Pole, were separated by hundreds of miles of ocean sea floor, and the whole thing was called Rodinia.

About 500 million years later, the Kalahari plate started moving toward the Congo plate, and the South American plate moved toward both.  They all met at the point where we are standing, the Ugab River Valley.  In the collision, the Kalahari plate was forced down under the Congo plate, bending and folding great sections of the sea floor, which can be seen throughout the Damara mountain region.  They look like very wavy multi-layered ribbons of rock topping granite slabs of mountain.  The resulting super-continent was called Gondwana, and it was the world’s first mountain building experience.  For almost a half-billion years, rock and roll was the tune on these table tops for as far as you could see.  

Four hundred million years later, it all broke up.  After erosion and glaciers lowered and flattened the mountains, a deep ocean split in the earth (Mid-Atlantic Ridge) heightened by the entire continent passing over the South Pole and heading north deposited South America, Australia, India, and the Antarctic half way around the world to their present locations.   

As we drive across five hundred miles of otherwise boring territory, it’s what happened here over the past billion years that should cause us to gasp in amazement.  Too bad it isn’t very photogenic.

To see all of the photos we took today, click on Friday, August 1st, Halali Resort, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

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