Tasmania, Australia, geology, travel, blog, adventure, hiking, exploring, earth, science, rocks, nature, geomorphology, glacier, glacial morphology, glaciations, dolerite, Mt. Anne, Mt. Eliza, Abels, The Abels, mountains, high, moraine, cirque, cliff, lake pedder, lake judd, bushwalking, hiking, diabase, selfie, timk, moraine, Smiths, Tarn Valley, Schnells Ridge, Federation Peak

The Abel mountains of Tasmania

Tasmania, Australia, geology, travel, blog, adventure, hiking, exploring, earth, science, rocks, nature, geomorphology, glacier, glacial morphology, glaciations, dolerite, Mt. Anne, Mt. Eliza, Abels, The Abels, mountains, high, moraine, cirque, cliff, lake pedder, lake judd, bushwalking, hiking

Mt. Anne; one of the > 1100 m high “Abel” mountains of Tasmania, Australia

Intro: There is something special about mountains when you are a geologist (i.e. a person who spends a good chunk of the time thinking about rocks). Their prominent peaks seem to allure and beg to be reached. Growing up in Canada I’m used to being surrounded by gorgeous glacier-caped mountain. Sadly, these are missing in Australia. However, here in Tasmania there are heaps of stunning little mountains that fill the gap; and they are mostly all within reach with a short drive out of Hobart and a day or twos’ hike. In fact, there is a whole book on these mountains compiled by an avid Tasmanian bushwalker, Wilkinson (1994). These mountains are called “The Abels” (named after the discovered of Tasmania, Abel Tasman) and are a list of the highest mountains in Tasmania (i.e. over 1100 m with over 150 m vertical drop on all faces).

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Selfie with Mt. Anne in the background – Tasmania, Australia

The reason some of the most elite Abels look so impressive is due to a combination of the rocks they are composed of, and the glaciers that scraped, shaped and carved them! I recently took it on myself to try and summit some of these, and this post is about their most common geological formation, highlighted on one of the most regarded Abels in the wild southwest of Tasmania; Mt. Anne.

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A beautiful sunset over Lake Pedder in wild southwest Tasmania, Australia

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Path up to Mt. Eliza and Mt. Anne – Tasmania, Australia

Science Spiel: Peak Exposure (Glacial Geomorphology, Geology)

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Outcropping Jurassic dolerite in Tasmania, Australia (MRT and Corbett et al., 2014)

Mt. Anne is located in southwest Tasmania, nestled within the wilderness near Lake Pedder. At 1423 m it protrudes sharply from the surrounding bush-land. The peak is made of the famous rock type of Tasmania; dolerite. When the dolerite intruded the land in the Jurassic (~ 180 Ma) it cooled rapidly, leading to the characteristic columnar joints observed in many localities in Tasmania (e.g. Cape Raoul and Maria Island). Most of the highest peaks in Tasmania are comprised of these dolerite columns, but only at a few localities, like Mt. Anne, you can see the contact to the older Precambrian basement rocks like quartzite (a common rock-type that comprises another famous Abel I hiked last year).

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Grey older (~Precambian) quartzite overlain by brown younger (~Jurassic) dolerite, near Mt. Eliza – Tasmania, Australia

During the last glacial maximum (i.e. ~ 20,000 years ago) cirque, valley and small ice cap glaciers developed on the mountains of western and central Tasmania (Corbett et al., 2014). It is estimated that ~ 1085 km2 of ice covered the land. Cirques and valley glaciers accumulated on the leeward of mountain ranges, and some great examples of these can be seen around Mt. Anne, as well as near Frenchman’s Cap. Other glacier-derived features, like the sharp crescent moraines near Lake Judd by Mt. Anne, mark the limits of where the ice went.

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Lake Timk (a glacier-formed cirque) with accurate moraine ridges. Federation Peak (the hardest Abel on the list) is visible in the background – Tasmania, Australia

To determine how long ago ice retreated, techniques like cosmogenic nuclide exposure-age dating using 10Be have been done of rocks within the glaciated regions of Tasmania (e.g. Barrows et al., 2002; Kiernan et al., 2004; Thrush, 2008). As Tasmania entered the present day cool temperature climate the ice melted and retreated, and while doing so, carved and exposed a large portion of the Abels seen today!

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East face of Mt. Eliza with the glaciated moraines and cirques of the Schnells Ridge in the background – Tasmania, Australia

Final Thoughts: With over 160 Abels, and only a limited time in Tasmania (I am a full-time PhD student after all), I sadly do not think I will ever complete the list. However, it is fun to give it a go and I’ll keep trying to tick them off during my time in Tasmania. There is an unfortunate confession I have to make for this Mt. Anne trip I camped the night on the plateau before the final summit to Mt. Anne in the morning, and then the fog and wind came overnight, making it unsafe for an ascent that morning!

Tasmania, Australia, geology, travel, blog, adventure, hiking, exploring, earth, science, rocks, nature, geomorphology, glacier, glacial morphology, glaciations, dolerite, Mt. Anne, Mt. Eliza, Abels, The Abels, mountains, high, moraine, cirque, cliff, lake pedder, lake judd, bushwalking, hiking

Fogged in on Mt. Anne plateau (no summit today!)

Alast, this Abel will need to be properly summited again soon so I can tick it off my list! While the competition aspect is appealing, the true beauty of the Abels is an appreciation of the mountains and their surroundings. Their geological formation and late glaciated history are what truly make the Abels a wonderful little group of mountains to explore in Tasmania!

-Stephanie

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Sunset over Lake Pedder from Mt. Anne plateau – Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania, Australia, geology, travel, blog, adventure, hiking, exploring, earth, science, rocks, nature, geomorphology, glacier, glacial morphology, glaciations, dolerite, Mt. Anne, Mt. Eliza, Abels, The Abels, mountains, high, moraine, cirque, cliff, lake pedder, lake judd, bushwalking, hiking, Jurassic, diabase

Mt. Anne from the top of Mt. Eliza (my backpack for scale) – Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania, Australia, geology, travel, blog, adventure, hiking, exploring, earth, science, rocks, nature, geomorphology, glacier, glacial morphology, glaciations, dolerite, Mt. Anne, Mt. Eliza, Abels, The Abels, mountains, high, moraine, cirque, cliff, lake pedder, lake judd, bushwalking, hiking, Jurassic, diabase

Hiking up the ridge to Mt. Eliza and Mt. Anne – Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania, Australia, geology, travel, blog, adventure, hiking, exploring, earth, science, rocks, nature, geomorphology, glacier, glacial morphology, glaciations, dolerite, Mt. Anne, Mt. Eliza, Abels, The Abels, mountains, high, moraine, cirque, cliff, lake pedder, lake judd, bushwalking, hiking, Jurassic, diabase

Pineapple grass on the plateau with Mt. Anne in the background – Tasmania, Australia

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9 Comments

  1. Pingback: Mt Anne Circuit | words and wilds

    • Thanks Bob! Your photo of the high clouds at Cotopaxi is very cool and yes, reminds me of my own cloudy experience as well! Glad I could help satisfy your inner geomorphologist needs, and thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Cheers!

  2. Stephanie what a great post and I want to get to the Abels to see for myself. What a shame the mist hampered the ascent, but at least you get to see mountain mist which is in itself pretty magical.

    • Hey!
      I’m glad you liked the post! Yeah the mist was an unexpected surprise, and it was a shame I couldn’t reach the top… but yes, good point as the mountain mist was very pretty. This Abel (Mt. Anne) was worth the trip up to the plateau anyways, so I am pretty happy with the trip overall, however, I do have to do it again soon so I can officially get it off the list of completed Abels.
      Thanks for reading and hope you can get down to Tassie and the Abels someday too, cheers!
      Stephanie

  3. annathrax

    What beautiful photos! Tassie is high on the wish list! Cheers from Perth!

    • Thank you! Yes Tassie is beautiful, hopefully you can make it down someday. Though, WA and Perth are nice as well from what I’ve heard 🙂