Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
In the second photo I am following Ben towards our next fossil hunting stop off.
James Crampton gets speedy on one of the faster sections of the stream.
2009. This will have been due to the higher river levels, and the random redistribution of boulders during occasional flood events.
Finally we arrived at the Rockhounds Huts, - built by Joan Wiffen and her team in the seventies as a base for their summer explorations of the Mangahouanga Stream.
Monday, 16 January 2012
|The first barrier to accessing Mangahouanga Stream|
What I didn't mention in my blog was the existence of a remote valley that we believe might have only been visited once by a geologist prior to 2009. The valley is a tributary of the Mangahouanga Stream.
|Pete Shaw with marine reptile bones from Wiffen Valley|
The photo shows Pete in 2009 with the prize find of the day moments after he pulled it out of the stream. It is a cluster of several reptile vertebrae, subsequently identified as belonging to an elasmosaur. Although heavy, Pete managed to carry it out, whereas most of the fossils we found that day had to be left in place.
Last week I returned to the area with a team of GNS palaeontologists along with Victoria University student Ben Hines. One of our aims was to explore the hidden Wiffen Valley to have a closer look at its geology and fossils,
This photo shows GNS palaeontologists James Crampton and John Simes in the upper section of Wiffen Stream.
There were log jams, tree trunks and waterfalls to negotiate as we travelled down the stream.
We took our time to throughly check out the boulders for fossils as we moved slowly along.
Friday, 6 January 2012
|Takaka limestone country|
The area is very rugged, covered with rock outcrops and tangled vegetation. There are many caves (see my earlier blog post from January 2010) and my particular interest was to look for small vertical shafts that might have acted as lethal traps to the moa that once roamed the area.
|The delights of moa hunting|
As you can see, some of these caves are very small. With a bit of wiggling and squirming, we were able to push down into them.
|Moa bones lie scattered at the bottom of a cave|
|Moa bones in narrow fissure|
At the very bottom of this cave, there were more bones visible, but the fissure was too tight to get close to.
We were very satisfied with our discoveries, and happy to leave the bones in place for future rediscovery and study.