Bushveld Igneous Complex Archives - State of the Planet

Pricker Bushes, South African Barbeque and New Friends

On Friday, we decided to revisit an area we had already been to.  This section covers the contact between the Bushveld rocks (green, colors as seen on the map) and the leptite (purple), granophyre (yellow) and granite (pink) rocks that we are interested in.  What the map doesn’t show is topography.  Pink granite can be very resistant, meaning it… read more

by |August 28, 2010

Rock Hunting Before River Closes In

On Tuesday we drove to the Steelpoort River Valley, about a hundred kilometers away. Work on a new dam and road has begun since we were here last, in 2006 and 2007. Once it’s finished, the dam will flood much of our field area, submerging some of the rocks we are studying. It’s a good thing… read more

by |August 25, 2010

Geology with a Taste of Safari

We started the morning with breakfast and shopping for lunch provisions. We bought a large bag of oranges grown in the groves that surround this region for the equivalent of $1.50, along with cheese and, of course, biltong. The butcher offered many kinds of biltong, from the shaved, proscuitto-like variety to the serious cowboy jerky… read more

by |August 23, 2010

Rock Collecting While Watching for Crocodiles, Leopards

On Saturday morning, Ed and I left Pretoria for the next phase of our trip: field work near the Loskop Dam in Mpumalanga Province where a large volcano once existed about two billion years ago. No one has been able to find where this ancient volcano stood but lava flows in the area suggest there… read more

by |August 21, 2010

Singing, Clapping, Smiling over Geology in S. Africa

After a morning lecture about the Bushveld Complex and the processes of concentrating ores in magma bodies, Ed and I had to go to the University of Pretoria for Thursday afternoon. I was invited to give a lecture and we were able to have some very interesting conversations about Bushveld research with the people who… read more

by |August 20, 2010

Diamond Mine Field Trip on Despite Strike

 We woke up Wednesday morning to find out that all unionized government workers, including public school teachers, were on strike. All schools were shuttered and we worried that no one would show up for our workshop. But we arrived at class to find all of our teachers present. They told us this was a once… read more

by |August 19, 2010

Getting Underneath South Africa’s Mineral Wealth

Our teaching workshop continued Tuesday with a lecture about mineral resources and their economic importance. South Africa has abundant platinum and gold but also lesser-known elements like vanadium, chromium, and manganese. Vanadium and chromium, important to the steel industry, are found predominantly in the Bushveld Complex where our research is focused. Chromium gives steel much… read more

by |August 19, 2010

New York City Rocks Spark Cultural Exchange

The workshop that we are here leading is designed to help South Africa high school teachers make geology come alive for their students. We want to share basic concepts, such as how rocks and minerals form, but also provide activities and materials that can make the concepts more accessible. In planning the workshop, we outlined… read more

by |August 18, 2010

Discovering Biltong, Brooklyn, in South Africa

We arrived in the city of Tshwane (formerly named Pretoria) on Sunday after a day-long journey from New York. Tshwane is the executive capitol of South Africa and according to several locals we met while walking through the city, home to the most national embassies after Washington D.C. More importantly, Tshwane is where the U.S…. read more

by |August 17, 2010
Geologic maps show what rocks are exposed at the surface.

South Africa-Bound with Sand from Coney Island

I’m flying to Johannesburg on Friday in what will be my third expedition to South Africa. In the past I’ve traveled here to study the Bushveld Complex, a huge lava formation that provides over 70 percent of the world’s platinum as well as other valuable ores, such as vanadium and chromium, both used to make… read more

by |August 12, 2010