WELCOME TO THE EDGE OF ANTARCTICA
TORNDIRRUP NATIONAL PARK – POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK
The continents of Australia and Antarctica were bound together along this rugged coastline for more than one billion years, forming part of the super-continent Gondwana.
The ancient continents were formed mainly of gneiss (sounds like ‘nice’), a rock created deep in the Earths crust.
Pressure and friction at the base of the two fused continents caused rock to melt and slowly rise up through the gneiss. This molten rock slowly cooled, hardening into granite and helping to cement the continents together.
Australia and Antarctica separated about 45 million years ago when the last sections of the super-continent broke apart. The rocks you see here were left behind when the continents parted.
Today, rock formations on Australia’s southern coast can still be matched to identical rocks on the northern coast of Antarctica near Windmill Islands.
Still drifting north, Australia is 5 centimetres further from Antarctica than it was one year ago today.
SCULPTURE IN PROGRESS
The granite which forms the Gap and the Natural Bridge was created when molten rock rose from deep in the earths crust. It hardened 20 kilometres below what was then the surface.
Water and wind wore and eroded away the softer layers of rock which lay above the granite. No longer held down by the weight, the granite expanded and cracked as it slowly rose to become exposed at the surface.
Driven by wind and waves, water and air pressure wore open the cracks, quarrying the granite into block shaped sections.
Waves relentlessly pounded against the coast, eventually tearing away loose blocks of granite to create the Gap and the Natural Bridge.
Sometime in the future….
…the Gap will widen and disappear.
…the Natural Bridge will collapse and become a new Gap.