picture of the day
Mountain with Dove Lake in the foreground. Credit:
Jun 09, 2008
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Australia’s wild country exhibits some of the most unusual
geology found anywhere on Earth. Could the dolerite structures
in Tasmania be electrical formations?
Island of Tasmania in the south of Australia is one of the most provocative
spots on Earth. The remarkable diversity of plant life and the unique animals
found nowhere else have provided scientists of every stripe with near-ideal
conditions for study. The ecology is isolated, with little incursion from
transplanted animals, although the rats that stowed away on early ships and the
cats that were subsequently imported to kill the rats have had a dramatic (and
sometime devastating) impact on the native animals.
Cradle Mountain might qualify as another example of the mysterious stone
monoliths that are found on every continent (and under the sea). Unlike other
Australian formations that are composed entirely of sandstone and a loose
conglomerate of quartzite, sandstone, seashells and a collection of whatever
minerals are found in the surrounding area, Cradle Mountain is a solid chunk of
dolerite, or congealed basalt lava.
Tasmania illustrates violent geologic activity that took place “millions of
years ago” according to conventional models. The mountainous uplifts, the deep,
steep-sided gorges, the “needles” of stone that rise out of the ocean around its
circumference and the many crater lakes found in the interior are said to be the
remains of volcanic eruptions due to the movement of tectonic plates. Indeed,
lava flows that buried valleys and snuffed-out jungles and forests are easy to
see. The difficulty with the observation is that the features appear to be
exceptionally fresh rather than extremely ancient. How do sharp needles of stone
vertical cliffs enclosing flat-bottomed channels come to exist through the
slow process of erosion?
As most geologists propose, the erosive action of wind and rain tends to “melt”
rock formations because rainwater is a weak form of carbonic acid and wind
carries grains of dust that grind away at the stone over eons of time. Sharp
points become blunted mounds; vertical walls become gently sloping hills, while
river valleys mature from canyons into shallow meanders in a broad flood plain.
It is counter-intuitive, therefore, to find youthful topography in a location
that should have matured into old age millennia ago.
Cradle Mountain, in particular, is crowned with
rock formations that seem to defy the elemental forces that are attempting
to dissolve its very structure. Upright columns of dolerite stand like
Easter Island statues in the rain. As standard mineralogical studies seem to
indicate, basaltic lavas are often found eroded into columnar forms with a
tendency to split into vertical fractures. On
mountain peaks that are exposed to alternate freezing and thawing, the
rainwater supposedly seeps into cracks in the stone where it freezes and
expands, forcing the rock apart into slabs. Or, water finds the path of least
resistance in the stone, carving vertical cracks ever deeper until, eventually,
the rock falls apart.
In our Picture of the Day about the tepuis of Amazonia, we reported that on many
of the summits
rock formations that look more like abstract sculpture gardens are abundant.
Stone points, thickets of tubular palisades and upraised, columnar “hands” with
multiple fingers demonstrate that weathering cannot be the primary cause. How
does erosion leave behind
stacked stone towers with many layers, sharp edges, mushroom-shaped caps and
fine detail? Figures such as those should have softened long ago. Cradle
Mountain is crowned with an incredible number of
similar oddities. The mountain, itself,
resembles the South American massifs so closely that they could be cousins.
Dove Lake is one of many such “crater lakes” that can be found in the region. It
bowl-shaped lake, very deep, scooped out of the bedrock. Around the lake are
vertical cliffs that seem to indicate that Dove Lake is actually the bottom of a
larger crater that is several kilometers in diameter. Lake Willis is another
bowl-shaped lake located high above Dove Lake. Its overflow runs down into Dove
Lake as a spectacular
waterfall. Crater Lake, Lake Lilla and others are similar in shape. A
particularly interesting detail is that these lakes appear to have been created
by a kind of shotgun blast from space. They are clustered together, have nearly
identical morphology and are “punched” into the strata, leaving it visible as
How did the Australian landforms come to be? If what has been taught since Lyell
and Agassiz is correct, they were formed by glaciers, volcanism, erosion and
other slow, steady, predictable forces that are supposed to be occurring
invisibly all around us all the time. But if the Electric Universe hypothesis of
planetary scarring is correct, they might have been created in an instant and in
the recent past.
By Stephen Smith
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