Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cape Town, South Africa

After leaving the desert our trip descended on Cape Town, South Africa, one of my favorite destinations. Maybe its the similarity in climate and feel to my roots in southern California. Or maybe its just that 'Seouth Afreca' has a character that is too interesting and compelling to ignore. After all, this is the land of Nelson Mandela, who brought down apartheid and then had the audacity to say 'No retribution, look to the future'. Compare this to Zimbabwe the land of painful retribution.

I love history! And it really comes alive for me when I see a classic old painting done by someone who was "there". Here is a Dutch painting of a supply ship entering Table Bay in the late 1600's.

And a very similar view of Table Bay and Cape Town in 2009 when I flew here on a helicopter!

The cable car to the top of Table Mountain actually spins as you go up, giving a great view of the city and the wall of sandstone behind it. The sandstone is Cambro-Ordovician in age (about 500 to 450 Ma) and is interpreted to be laid down in near-shore river systems from today's north.

Lion's head - a familiar landmark west of the city center, is also composed of these bedded sandstones.

This is a shot from the helicopter of Cape Point, near the Cape of Good Hope - made famous in zillions of American 4th grade classes. What a treat to actually come here and see it. Ironically, it is not the southernmost point in Africa - that would be Cape Agulhas about 120 miles farther east of here.

Precambrian/Phanerozoic contact in South Africa. The light colored Cape Granite (below the road) intruded about 540 Ma and the darker seds were laid on top about 70 to 100 million years later. I have seen this contact in many places around the world - Saudi Arabia, Jordan and of course The Great Unconformity at Grand Canyon.

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