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14 September 2018

Friday fold: Ferruginous sediments in Barberton Mountain Land

A trip back to Archean sedimentary rocks in Barberton, South Africa, reveals a few folds on the roadside…

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5 June 2018

Cross-bedding in Archean komatiitic ash deposits

Cross-bedding isn’t just for modern sedimentary deposits; you can find it in truly ancient ash deposits too! Let’s head to South Africa and take a look.

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21 February 2018

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is a South African stand-up comedian who rocketed into American awareness when he was selected as the successor to Jon Stewart as the host of Comedy Central’s news program The Daily Show. This book is Noah’s autobiography of growing up in South Africa, at first under apartheid, and then in the new post-apartheid era. It is the best account I’ve read of the institutional and cultural structure of …

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2 November 2017

Weathering in komatiite

This morning on Twitter I was reminded of komatiites, those “extinct” ultramafic lavas that were relatively common eruptions during the Archean. I’ve actually got a good number of komatiite photos to share from my time last year in South Africa’s Barberton Greenstone Belt. But since time is short this morning, I’ll start with a short photo set of three images, all showing different aspects of how these ultramafic rocks weather …

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25 May 2017

Chert-slab conglomerate from the Fig Tree Group, Barberton

Deep in the Archean, things suddenly got violent in the deep water of the Mapepe Formation’s oceanic setting. What was a quiet precipitation of chert suddenly was torn apart and tumbled downslope. Was an earthquake to blame? A bolide impact? This is the result.

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1 May 2017

Accretionary lapilli from Archean volcanic eruptions

Volcanic “hailstones” called accretionary lapilli rained down on South Africa 3 billion years ago, and have survived to be seen in the present day, along the R40 road through Barberton Mountain Land, near the Bulembu border crossing into Swaziland.

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10 March 2017

Friday fold: Sheba Mine sample

When touring the geology of the Barberton Greenstone Belt last August, our group visited the Sheba Mine, a gold mine high in the hills. Their geologist kindly showed us around and allowed us to visit his history-laden office. I have no idea where this sample originated, but it was the only fold I saw in the place, nestled between sepia-toned photographs and old lanterns and rusty picks. I wonder what …

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2 February 2017

Banded iron formation in Barberton Mountain Land

Banded iron formation is an “extinct rock” that can be found in ancient marine strata such as those found in the Barberton Greenstone Belt. Visit an outcrop on the Barberton GeoTrail and contemplate the bizarre anoxic world that Earth used to be.

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11 January 2017

More Messengers from the Mantle

Since I showed off the 3D kimberlite intrusion breccias yesterday, I feel as if I owe you some other photos from that lovely exhibit at the IGC. I apologize for the poor quality of these photos – the gorgeous samples were behind glass and brightly lit, which made photography difficult. But the rocks are sooooooooo pretty, I think you’ll enjoy viewing them just the same. Let’s start with a gargantuan …

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10 January 2017

Two kimberlite intrusion samples presented in 3D model format

While in Cape Town for the 35th meeting of the International Geological Congress in August/September, I was delighted at the “Messengers from the Mantle: Craton Roots and Diamonds” exhibit on kimberlites. It was a world-class collection of excellent specimens that traveled to the Congress from across the city at the University of Cape Town. I took some photos of two specimens to make 3D models from, and my student Marissa …

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