We arrived in Christchurch yesterday after spending most of the day driving across the South Island. We left the town of Harihari on the west coast and are now on the east coast. The drive over the Southern Alps through Arthur’s Pass was absolutely stunning and is definitely one that I’d like to do again in the future.
Over the past few days, we looked at the contact between the Indo-Australian and Pacific plates as it crosses through New Zealand. We saw some interesting geologic structures along the Alpine fault (at a spot where it is a thrust fault), such as Miocene rocks (anywhere from 5 to 23 million years old) laying on top of Pleistocene sediments (less than 2 million years old).
We also got to look at the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers as well. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a glacier in real life. The shear size of those things are amazing. As we walked up to the Fox Glacier, we got to see huge chunks of ice fall off the face of the glacier and splash into a river below. The booming sounds that echoed across the valley were quite humbling. One of the other students on the trip was able to capture some of the falling blocks of ice on film as well. It’s a great picture.
Today is our last full day on the South Island. We drive all day tomorrow to Picton and take a ferry at 6pm to Wellington, where we’ll spend the next 3 weeks on the North Island. It’s crazy to think that we’re basically halfway through our field camp program.
Here’s one that will make my mother happy: What geology is all about – Danger
Face of the Franz Josef Glacier (note person near the cave for scale).
In front of Franz Josef Glacier
Looking down the valley from Fox Glacier
Trying to spell: FOX
Fox Glacier from afar