Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Claremont Country Estate and Limestone Hills

I spent the night in the cottage on Gareth and Camilles' property and then in the morning I went over to the property next door which just happened to be Claremont Country Estate. Gareth arranged with the owners Richard and Rosie Goord, to go out on their private Land Rover "Safari" over the 2,400 acre estate and nature reserve to see some history regarding the limestone cliffs and the hidden prehistoric treasures found inside.

A big attraction at Claremont is the chance to see God's Marbles – massive round limestone boulders dating from the age of the dinosaurs. About 15 million years ago, God's Marbles began to form. Erosion by river, sun and rain has gradually exposed these boulders, which have tumbled down into the riverbed. They can weigh more than seven tons. If I remember corectly, they are more like pearls which are calcium carbonate that formed around dinosaur bones and like a pearl began to grow. So, everywhere you see one of these "pearls", there is a dinosaur bone hidden inside somewhere. How cool is that?

"Claremont also contains rock-solid proof of the disaster that wiped out the dinosaurs. About 65 million years ago, a meteor or asteroid collided with the Earth, striking the Yucatan peninsula near Mexico with the force of a major nuclear detonation. The resultant debris blocked out light and heat, causing mass extinction.
Evidence for this can be found at Claremont in the KT boundary, a layer of rust-streaked rock rich in iridium, an element found in meteorites. This is one of the most visible KT boundary sites on Earth. Dinosaur fossils exist below the line, but none above."

Anyway, after a truly fascinating tour of the high country sheep station, deer farm and my geology lesson for the day, I took off for Akaroa. I drove back through Christchurch and then out to the Banks Peninsula all the way to the end to Akaroa, a little French fishing village. More on that later.

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