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October 13, 2005

Who has the oldest mud?

muddy boots 76 10 13 001.jpg

[My right boot with 1000 million year old mud from the vineyard.]

We have very old mud.

These Stormhoek vineyards are planted in mud that is something like 1000 million years old. That’s about a quarter of the age of the planet. A thousand million years ago, this mud drifted downstream in a now vanished river and was deposited in a shallow sea, which must have been somewhere here, where we live, in today’s Wellington district in South Africa.

The mud solidified, under the pressure of the seawater and became what is known as mudstone or shale. It was still covered by the sea 500 million years later when Gondwanaland broke up, and South America (which must have been just over there on the western horizon then) drifted away to the west, creating the South Atlantic Ocean.
We came up out of the ocean depths 250 million years later, when volcanic activity lifted the shale and sandstone seabed above the surface. These sedimentary soils are now 300m above sea level.

This winter has been pretty wet (670mm so far this year) and mud has been a constant companion.

Posted by graham knox at October 13, 2005 2:40 PM

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