Thursday, January 16, 2014

14 January 2014: enroute to Christchurch: Moeraki boulders

The 5+ hour drive to Christchurch took us along the eastern shore of the South Island, through the Canterbury region.  This area of the South Island is dominated by agriculture.  We drove past miiles of wheat fields, primarily, as well as some corn and lavender fields.  Sheep grazing also dominated the landscape, not surprising given that New Zealand has about 40 million sheep, a little less than 10x as many people!  Looking over our right shoulders, we could see the coastline with its sublime blue hues.  After 1.5hrs in the van, we decided to make a stop for some geologic curiosities on this coast: the Moeraki boulders.

Over the course of the last 55 million years, pebbles and shells along the coast started balls that were subsequently layered with lime deposits.  The layes of lime 'cemented' together to form large boulders, some nearly 2m (~6 ft) in size.  I had heard about the boulders during our last trip to New Zealand, but we didn't stop for one reason or another.  So, we made a stop on this beautiful day.  The boulders were pretty impressive, and we could see at least a dozen boulders on the beach; we could've probably seen more, but the tide was high and there wasn't room on the beach between the water and the cliff face.  After a 45min stop, we decided to call it a day and proceed to Christchurch.

Our students and Dr. Moran standing in front of some of the Moeraki boulders.

Dorian Shann (Physical Therapy, 2015), Sean Harrison (Business, 2015), and Lara Guindi (Biology/ pre-med, 2015) contemplating the massive Moeraki boulders.

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