The Barberton Mountainland is world renowned, in Geological circles at least, for the rocks which comprise the Barberton Greenstone Belt. These are very ancient rocks and are uniquely well preserved.
There are other older rocks in South Africa and elsewhere in the world, but here they are accessible and have suffered very little in the way of alteration.
There is clear evidence of lavas which formed the earliest oceanic floor. Plate tectonic processes then initiated volcanism forming the oldest known land. These volcanic island arcs were then subsequently subject to erosion and the sediments derived from this process were deposited in the surrounding seas.
The oldest accepted life forms were living in this area
and we can see the remains truly unique, to be able to see where it all started.
The preservation of these rocks is so complete that direct analysis and interpretation of these ancient rocks can be made using comparisons with present day processes.
As part of the proposed World Heritage Site, which has been accepted tentatively by UNESCO and the SA Government, subject to the completion of the documentation by the project team, the Makonjwa Geotrail is being established.
As a Geologist and very keen supporter of the plans to promote the area as a tourism destination, I take visitors on a guided tour up into the mountains to see, explain and interpret these unique geological formations.
We are fortunate in the fact that recently the road through the Mountainland to the Swazi border has been upgraded and a certain amount of road widening took place which created exposures that show many of the crucial rocks without having to travel far from the road.
The story that these rocks can convey is enthralling to anyone interested. You do not by any means have to be a Geologist to be fascinated by the story of the ancient earth as revealed on our Geotour. We will explain the rocks and exposures at what ever level of detail you are comfortable with and we have the experience to fill in many of the peripheral issues and answer most questions.
The tour takes some 4hrs and is very much a drive to an exposure, an elucidation of the story that the rocks reveal then continue on to another.
Interspersed with this are some stops to take in some of the breathtaking views across the Mountainland and some explanations of the history of the area.
Drinks and snacks are part of the package and we generally stop for a while to take it all in – and usually debate what we have seen.
A typical tour would start off with a background talk setting the scene and some idea of what we would be looking at; we find this is necessary to establish the technical levels and to ensure that all our participants have a basic knowledge of the geology and area.
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