- Free State
- Vredefort Dome (Crater)
Vredefort Dome (Crater), Free State
The Vredefort Dome is a site of great significance, not only to South Africa but to the whole world, and it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When a meteorite impacted the earth on this site, aeons ago, it formed a 300 kilometre (multiple ringed) wide crater, so large that it can only be seen from outer space. All that remains today are geological structures, as the dome itself has been eroded over time and the outer edges are barely recognisable.
The crater lies about 100 km from Johannesburg and overlaps into the North-West and the Free State Province. It encompasses part of the Vaal River, Parys and Venterskroon in the North West. It was called The Vredefort Dome because of the 90 km wide upside-down bowl shape that was formed. The dome itself has been eroded through the years and is now not very visible from land. Its claim to fame is that it is the oldest impact crater found on the planet so far.
There are indications that:
- The impact took place aeons ago when the planet contained only algae and no plant, animal or human life.
- The estimated size of the meteorite is 10 km across and that it travelled at a speed of 3 000 km per hour.
Some places in the dome area
- Asskopies (has the remains of a city that housed 30 000 people for hundreds of years)
- Veg Kop
- Tours – varied and for all tastes
- Bird life - 450 species, including grey lours, blue jays and eagles
- Butterflies – many species can be found here
- World’s largest olive wood trees forest
- Unusual animals such as the Rooikat, Aardwolf, Leopard, several small buck and the endangered rock Dassie
- The Big Five - will be re-introduced into the area
Shooting Stars, Asteroids and Meteorites explained
Shooting stars can be seen as shining objects (not stars) shooting across the sky and are made up of pieces of burning rock that burn themselves out when they hit the earth atmosphere at such a speed that the friction causes the temperature of the object to reach 1000 degrees C and they burn themselves out.
Asteroids are bigger pieces of rock than the "shooting stars" and range in size from a football sized rock to pieces of many kilometres in diameter. These are not as prolific as the “shooting stars” and when they fall to earth they do not burn themselves out due to their size.
When an asteroid manages to hit the earth it is called a meteorite and many have been found on the surface of the earth.
When meteorites impact the earth their speed and heat is so great that they break up. This is what happened at the Vredefort Dome. If a meteorite of the same magnitude as the one that caused the crater at Vredefort were to happen today, all life on earth would be annihilated.
Vredefort Dome, South Africa
Tel : +27 18 293 2818
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax : +27 18 297 0351
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