8,000-year-old petroglyphs discovered in world’s largest meteorite crater

A team of geologists studying the Vredefort crater, They found 8,000 year old petroglyphs. which show that the site was of considerable spiritual importance to ancient peoples, as well as having the richest possible gold mines in the world.

Two billion years ago, a massive asteroid traveling at over 40 miles per hour crashed into what is now South Africa, leaving behind the Vredefort impact crater, 300 kilometers wide (190 miles); largest and second oldest on the planet.

The impact created some very unusual geological formations. The most distinctive are ‘Granophyre Dykes’ or granophyre dykes, long, narrow structures 6 miles (9.7 kilometers) long and 16 feet (4.9 meters) wide. These are long rows of snake-like rocks that were made from molten rock underground.

Although the levees are known to have formed on impact, the exact process is uncertain. Credit: University of the Free State.

Till today, as the dykes were formed under the impact, it is one of the great mysteries of geologyalthough they have been studied for more than a century.

The crater, located in the country’s Free State province, has been known for more than 100 years and sits in the middle of theGoldfields of the Witwatersrand.

Interesting Features of Vredefort Crater

Nail investigation On the site made by experts from the University of the Free State, the University of Vienna and the Zavaritsky Institute of Geology and Geochemistry in Russia, revealed that the bottom of the crater is marked by dykes of granophyres, feldspars and quartz rocks that can extend for kilometers and only a few meters wide.

The molten material produced on the impact sank into the ground, catching rock fragments in its descent that would otherwise have eroded over the ensuing billions of years. For geologists, they are a rich source of information on ancient rock formations which otherwise would have been lost.

Vredefort crater seen from space. Credit: Julio Reis/NASA/Public Domain.

The mobilization of minerals when so many rocks melted after the impact led to the concentration of previously existing gold deposits in one place and brought them closer to the surface. It made possible the richest gold deposits in the worldwhere more than a fifth of the gold mined in the world comes from.

8,000 year old petroglyphs

By studying the dykes, the Dr Matthew Huberlecturer in economic geology at the University of the Free State and his colleagues, they found sizes never seen beforeleft by the khoisan or Khoisan, a people who inhabited what is now northern South Africa thousands of years ago.

Apparently, the Khoisan recognized how unusual the dykes are and chose them as the locations for their ceremonies, as geologists say the area around the dykes is littered with Jóisan artifacts and carvings dating back 8,000 years.

You might also be interested in: The largest petroglyphs of animals in the world created 10,000 years ago.

The carvings appear to depict creatures such as rhinos, hippos, and horses that were then common in the region.

One of the carvings, probably an antelope. Credit: University of the Free State.
Image showing a hippo carved by the Joisan people around 8,000 years ago. Credit: University of the Free State.
Another of the sculptures found in the impact crater dam. Credit: University of the Free State.

According to experts, the shapes of the dykes reminded the Khoisan of snakes, which in this culture were associated with rain.

The location of the dam on top of a hill, near a body of water and in the form of an important deity, probably led them there so that they could perform rain rituals and possibly d other important cultural activities.

It is surprising that the same dykes that currently hold great geological significance for scientists also held significant spiritual significance for the original inhabitants of this place.

References: Newsweek/IFL Science.

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