Golden sounds of ancient rocks in the Karoo
The N1 highway running through the Karoo towns of Matjiesfontein and Laingsburg defers to the laws of physics — its parallel lines never meet. It cuts through a flat, scrubby landscape seemingly mean with visual variety, distant mountains and koppies under big skies. On a family trip to the Cape, artist Jenna Burchell discovered that anomalies are more easily perceived against a uniform background. She spotted a "distinctive white line" about 1m wide running parallel to the road, a feature at odds with the landscape’s homogeny. She discovered it was the boundary between two geological times — an "extinction horizon". It is the marker of a devastating geographical event, a flood that happened 260-million years ago. The white line running from the great Karoo to South America was once covered by kilometres of Karoo sediment and lava. What remains after 150-million years of erosion is a band of ancient rock, known as the Matjiesfontein Chert Bed or the Matjiesfontein White Band Marker....
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.