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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....

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