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|Mount Mauna Kea of Hawaii Island|
Tristan da Cunha (Wikipedia)
This explains South Africa’s wealth of easily accessible gold, iron, and manganese, but what of its other treasures-platinum, chromium and diamonds? These are the consequence of another bit of luck: The tip of Africa happens to be a ‘geological crossroads,’ where continents have built up and broken apart over time. When continental nuclei rupture, molten rock rises through the rifts, resulting in igneous rocks that fill the cracks. There are many such extrusions of igneous rock in the world, but the effects of rifting have been especially dramatic in South Africa. About 1.8 billion years ago South Africa’s Bushveld Complex, the biggest single igneous rock body on the face of the Earth (roughly the size of Ireland), was formed, leaving behind huge deposits of chromium and platinum.
Rifting also led to the formation of diamond fields 100 million years ago. The molten rock that rose from rift inter sections in South Africa contained pipes of kimberlite, which carry fully formed diamonds from great depths. Again South Africa isn’t unique in this regard. Arkansas, Wyoming, and Western Australia have had rifting, and have diamonds very similar to the ones in South Africa. But their kimberlite pipes aren’t as large or well formed, and therefore can’t carry as many big, high-quality diamonds up to the surface. Once more, South Africa was just plain lucky. Its kimberlite pipes are deep and protrude prominently through the brittle, ancient crust. Geological fate has indeed been very kind to South Africa. The rock there is readily available to be mined.
Mining industry of South Africa (Wikipedia)
When we notice the ordinary curves and twists in the course of a river, we may see no good reason for them, for all the land may look equally flat. But that is only because we can not, with out unaided eyes, see accurately enough. If we use a special instrument to show us how the land lies at any point, we shall find that the river is really doing the only thing it can – running downwards all the time.
Atacama is the oldest desert. It was formed about 10 million years ago. Some of its areas are so hot and arid that even the hardiest bacteria are unable to survive in the hostile environment.
Atacama Desert (Wikipedia)