April 20, 2008

South Island Photos - Oamaru

Oamaru is a smallish town that had a big boom in growth in the 1860s thanks to the discovery of gold in the nearby mountains, which led to a huge building spree. For such a small town it has a wealth of beautiful Victorian buildings.
As soon as our bus pulled into town Marcia's mom took us to the blue penguin colony where we watched the penguins waddle up the rocks
and into their burrows. (I didn't take these penguin photos--we weren't allowed to use cameras.)
Just south of Oamaru there's a fishing village that's famous for the giant boulders scattered across its beach. It looks like a bunch of giant children left their balls on the beach. Here's a more scientific description of what we saw from a website:
The Moeraki Boulders. . .are not like ordinary round boulders that have been shaped by rivers and pounding seas. These boulders are classed as septarian concretions, and were formed in ancient sea floor sediments. They were created by a process similar to the formation of oyster pearls, where layers of material cover a central nucleus or core. For the oyster, this core is an irritating grain of sand. For the boulders, it was a fossil shell, bone fragment, or piece of wood. Lime minerals in the sea accumulated on the core over time, and the concretion grew into perfectly spherical shapes up to three metres in diameter.

The original mudstone seabed has since been uplifted to form coastal cliffs. Erosion of the cliffs has released the three tonne captive boulders, which now lie in a haphazard jumble across the beach.

Further erosion in the atmosphere has exposed a network of veins, which gives the boulders the appearance of turtle shells.
Here's Jerry on a turtle-ish boulder.

And here's me. I love the yellow flowers that bloom down the hillside toward the beach.This boulder looked exactly like a dinosaur egg--or what I imagine a dinosaur egg would look like once the baby has hatched.

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