Standley Chasm, near Alice Springs

The landscape here is arid but spectacular. In the US we have Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, all rather dry but all stunning. This page will show happens when very old ocean sediments and eons of time and tectonic pressure work together. About 2.2 billion years ago this area was covered by a great and long-lasting sea. The sediments that built up were huge and many layered. They weigh on each other eventually forming a sandstone that was obviously sedimentary as it became exposed. Sheet after sheet of sediment can be seen. But, about 900 million years ago they were the base of a great mountain range with immense pressure now compacting them and changing the sand to rock-glass; quartzite.  There followed an array of tectonic actions and then a second orogeny which finished this transition, after another several hundred million years that is.

Now there are but mere fragments of these mountains; merely the basement sedimentary layers. Now, however they are bent, folded, and tilted. They appear here and there and then dive under the ground only too reappear many miles away. The stone  links like chunks of glass. It is now covered with iron oxide and manganese dioxide which color it reddish or black.

Here we stand more than two billion years into this areas geologic time and we are treated to some spectacular scenery.

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Our day begins with a close-up encounter with the Australian Outback bush and its original (local) Aboriginal inhabitants; the Walpiri people. But first we get to hear about them from Con, a great lecturer and nice man. Here we are treated to some pit-roasted kangaroo tail. Just prior we were shown the bush fruits, seeds, and food stuffs that were gathered for sustenance by the original land owners. It may surprise you to learn that the aboriginal folk have been on this land, as a culture, for at least 40,000 years and maybe as long as 60,000 years.
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The walk into Standley Chasm is amongst ancient cycads and picturesque eucalypts. The site is on Aboriginal Trust land and is well worth a visit.
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The hillsides are rock, mostly bare rock. But the trees and grasses hang on in pretty good numbers.
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The river bed at Simpsons Gap is decorated with large, and old, Red River Gums. In both locations there is water in the old gorge up to a level that is below the surface. Digging a hole will often expose a seep and the hole will slowly fill with water.
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These rocky sedimentary (altered) hillsides are made of quartzite. This hard glassy rock will wear very slowly and won’t interact chemically with much of anything. These walls have been around for a very long time and will be around for a very long time.

 

 

 

 

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