A Vredefort Dome Experience -Jan Fourie-
Tel: 056 811 2078 Mobile: 082 891 7163 Adderess: 62 Boom Street Parys E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Before modern times the Vredefort Dome area was rich in wild animals. Hunter-Gatherers roamed the area and left their art in the form of rock engravings (petroglyphs) of the animals they hunted on ancient rock formations. Clear signs that early people and wild animals occupied the same space and lived in harmony. Evidence of human habitation and activity in the Vredefort Dome, dates back to Late Stone Age, Iron Age, early settlers, Anglo-Boer war and mining for gold to modern times. Many stone-walled remains of settlements, inhabited by Iron Age farmers and cattle herders, are scattered in the hills all over the Vredefort Dome, further evidence that many more early people inhabited the hills and valleys of the Vredefort Dome during the Late Stone Age and Iron Age. Various artefacts as well as the remains of possible metal- smelting furnaces were uncovered at some of these settlements. Around the 1840’s Europeans settled in the area as livestock and crop farmers and of cause as hunters. In 1876 the town of Vredefort was formally established on the farm Visgat with erven sold on 20 April of that year and the town became an agricultural and religious centre. The town got its name after the peaceful conclusion of a threatened war between the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The farm where the dispute was settled, belonged to Jacobus Scheepers and was then renamed from Visgat to Vredefort, meaning Fort of Peace
A massive rock from outer space collided with Earth near the present day towns of Vredefort and Parys. The impact took place 2023 million years ago and created a crater of 300km in diameter. The Vredefort Dome (Dome refers to the central uplift that occurs after an impact), approximately 120km south-west of Johannesburg is a representative part of this large meteorite impact structure (astrobleme). Dating back 2 023 million years, it is the oldest and also largest astrobleme found on Earth so far. Due to the fact that the town Vredefort is close to the geometric centre of the impact crater, researchers started to speak of it as the Vredefort Dome and today the name is known and used worldwide. The Vredefort Meteorite Impact Structure bears witness to the greatest known single energy release event on Earth. It provides evidence of the Earths geological history. It contains high quality and accessible geological sites which demonstrate a range of geological indicators of a complex meteorite impact structure. Vrederfort Dome is the best preserved impact site of its size and the only example to provide a full geological profile of an astrobleme below a crater floor. As such it has captured the fascination or scientists all over the world. The term dome in Vredefort Dome, refers to the central uplift that occurs after an impact. In the case of the Vredefort Dome, the dome has eroded away during the course of 2 billion years and only the crater floor is now visible. Quartsite conglomerate rocks on or near the surface in the hills in the Dome, caused a mini gold rush during the 1880's, in the area around Venterskroon, in the core area of the Vredefort Meteorite Impact Crater. It is believed that the Vredefort blast, forced all the rich gold deposits closer to the surface in the mining areas of South Africa. Old mine dumps and tunnels in the hills in this area, tell the story of fortune seekers who hoped to become rich since the 1880's, but without much luck and left for Johannesburg for better luck. Mining for gold began in 1887 and in the same year the Venterskroon Gold Fields was officially proclaimed by the Government of the day. A Mining Commissioner's office was established at Venterskroon in 1889, from where the gold mining activities were regulated. The mining for gold either side of the Vaal River was also commonly known as the Vaal River Diggings. However, by around 1930, mining operations in the Vredefort Dome came to a halt, due to the low production of gold. The total production from all the mines in the area was only 123kg of gold, an average of 4.6 grams of gold per ton of ore milled. The yield was too low to be economically viable and certainly not worth the effort.
In summer after some good rains, visitors to certain parts of the Dome area may be forgiven if they think they have been transported back to paradise. A paradise that is a mere one and a half hour's drive from Johannesburg. The unique topography and variety of flora, make the Dome a special place to visit and nature lovers come from far and wide to view and enjoy the beautiful ridge and valley country through which the idyllic Vaal River snakes. A great diversity of habitats exist, including open plains, bushveld, the riverine bush -valley of the Vaal River, hills and valleys with abundant flora, all in finely balanced ecosystems. A large percentage of the flora of the Dome have already been identified. Among the special flora in the Dome, count some trees that do not normally grow on the highveld, typical bushveld trees like Red Ivory, Jacket Plum, Velvet Bushwillow, Tree Fuchsia and a few more. However, the most unique feature as far as trees in the Dome are concerned, is the African Olive (Olea africana) forest on the slope of one hill in the Kopjeskraal area. This forest is the largest concentration of African Olive trees at a single location in the world. A large variety of very colourful wild flowers also occur naturally in the area. Human habitation with agricultural practices, unfortunately destroyed large portions of the natural habitat and thus many indigenous wild plants got lost. Fortunately large portions of natural veld is still intact and there to be enjoyed by visitors and tourists.
The unique geology of the Vredefort Dome, presents the substructure for unique vegetation to grow, which in turn supports a large variety of mammals. The whole spectrum of wild mammals roamed the hill tops and the valleys as well as the grass pains. Place names like Leeufontein, Koedoeslaagte, Buffelskloof, Tygerfontein and many others, bare witness that all these animals once existed here. Grazers, browsers, rodents and predators as well as a large variety of birds survived in the area over the ages, until man moved in and occupied the land with his hunting rifles and farming practices. The strong eco-tourism focus of recent years in the Vredefort Dome has resulted in the re-introduction of large numbers of game animals. Many farmers have converted their farms into game farms or reserves and it is not uncommon these days to see game like giraffe, eland, gemsbok, sable antelope and even nyala from the main roads. Many of the game animals one can observe in the area at present, are not common residents of the area, but occurred naturally in other regions of South Africa, but they have adapted and do well here. Primates, like baboons and vervet monkeys as well as many of the smaller predators are still present in fairly large numbers. Nocturnal ones like aardvark, porcupine, spring hare and other rodents are also around. Through the ages the flight of a bird and its ability to soar the skies without effort, captured the imagination of us as humans. They are the natural masters of the sky. Birds use their ability of flight, to reach every continent and habitat on earth. A very fascinating phenomenon that exist among the bird populations of the world, is what is known as bird migration. Migratory birds in South Africa are usually summer visitors, some are breeding migrants, but others non-breeding. When it becomes winter in one area they migrate to warmer areas, just to return when winter sets in in that part. Birdlife in the Dome is quite prolific and bird lovers can visit a number of birding hot spots in the area like the Vaal River, Inland Sea, grass veld areas, rocky hills and bush veld. Over 330 species have already been positively identified in this area. My personal list is 260 species. Among the special ones to observe here can be the majestic Fish Eagle and the Goliath Heron, which is the largest heron in the world. A large variety of water birds like ducks and geese as well cormorants and waders can be seen. A fairly scarce or not so commonly seen one, is the beautiful African olive pigeon. Many, many more beautiful birds grace our grass land, koppies, water bodies and forests of the Dome, inviting to be discovered. Information for this article was resourced from: METEORITE IMPACT by W. U. Reimold & R. L. Gibson
Guided tours are conducted in the Vredefort Dome by a registered tourist guide and if you want to discover what you have read about in this article and much, much more, you are welcome to book with DOME IMPACT TOURS. Tours are undertaken any time of the year, any day of the week and by anyone who would like to do it.
Vredefort Dome Tours -Jan Fourie-
Tel: 056 811 2078 Mobile: 082 891 7163 Adderess: 62 Boom Street Parys E-mail: email@example.com
VREDEFORT DOME TOURS
Dome Impact Tours offer the following tours by a registered tourist guide in the oldest and largest meteorite impact crater on Earth.
This tour is for people, mostly geologists & geology students, who want to see & study the unique rock types & rock formations in this impact crater. In the Vredefort Crater all these rocks are exposed on the surface and easily accessible for purposes of study and research.
The general tour is the one that most visitors prefer. This one gives an overall insight into the outstanding features of the unique landscape (the natural scenery of the hills and valleys and the Vaal River), the geology as well as the history and culture.
History & Culture tour
Many visitors are particularly interested in the rich history and culture of the area, as we have evidence of human habitation dating from Late Stone Age, Iron Age, and early European Settlers, Anglo-Boer War as well as the mining for gold, to the present day.
Imagine how much excitement and pleasure birders can have in an area with 330+ indigenous species of water birds, grassveld birds and forest birds in a radius of 50km. Indeed an area which should be on the wish list of every serious bird watcher.
Local as well as international geology students are brought to the Dome by their tutors to come and study the unique geology of the Vredefort Dome. We also cater for school groups, primary and secondary school learners and their teachers.
Time and size of groups for tours
Tours are run any day of the week all year round. For groups of people from two to twenty we have certain rates. Groups larger than twenty can negotiate for lower rates. A typical Dome tour will take 5 - 8 hours to complete. Depending on the need of and the time at the disposal of the group, the duration of the tour is adjustable.
Tourists visiting the Vredefort Dome
People come from far and wide to see and experience the phenomenon of South Africa’s mega impact, a crater which is the oldest and largest meteorite impact structure on Earth. It is not something that only South Africans do. We get just as many international visitors in the Vredefort Dome area as domestic tourists. And it is quite amazing, at times, to find how well informed international tourists are about the Vredefort Dome and knowing exactly what they want to see.
Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site: Status:
Part of the core of the crater was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural organisation), in 2005. The reason, because of its geological significance. The Free State and North-West provinces share the World Heritage Site which is bisected by the Vaal River. Size of the Area: 30 111ha
Not yet proclaimed a National Heritage by S.A. Government.
Not yet declared a World Heritage by UNESCO.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. Read More
The Vredefort Structure can be considered to be a gigantic scar that was left behind when a huge meteor (estimated size 10km diameter) collided with the earth about 2023 million years ago. The impact site, in modern day terms, would be some odd tens of kilometres south of Parys. The collision, at an estimated speed of 150 000 k/h, took place on an ancient surface about 17 km higher than the mentioned modern-day target point. The reason for this was that at the time 17 km of layered sedimentary and volcanic formations were piled up upon what, in today’s terms, we refer to as the Parys granite. Although a crater with an estimated diameter in the order of 100 km and some odd tens of kilometres deep was formed on the ancient surface, it was destroyed by erosion over a period of millions of years.
Holistic Environmental Services (HES) Cc was appointed by Crater slide (PTY) Ltd to submit the application to rectify the unlawful commencement of listed activities in terms of section 24G of the National Environmental Management Act,
(Act 107 of 1998) on portion 71 of the farm kopjeskraal 517-IQ in the Vredefort Dome Area, Tlokwe Local Municipality, North-West Province. The applicant commenced with earthworks and purchased the structures required to erect the 42 m high mast in January 2010. The section 24G application was submitted to the Department Environmental Affairs (DEA) in May 2010.
The Department responded by requesting the applicant to cease with the illegal activity and provide them with additional information (e.g. Visual Impact Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and Public Consultation) to enable them to make an informed decision regarding the proposed activity. Read More
This site brings to you the accommodation and activities in and around the dome. Read More